South American Countries Condemn British Threat to Remove Julian Assange From London Embassy

Twelve South American nations have condemned the United Kingdom for allegedly saying that it would use force to enter Ecuador's embassy in London to arrest Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

The ministers of the South American Union of Nations (UNASUR), gathered on August 19 in Guayaquil, Ecuador to formulate a letter in response to the UK stance about the diplomatic issue.

Recently Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange, who has a European arrest warrant for a charge of sexual assault, allegedly committed in Sweden. Following losing his case against extradition Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid detention by British authorities.

Assange, 41, originally requested political asylum to Ecuador in June, claiming that he was being persecuted for his role in WikiLeaks, an organization that has revealed confidential documents about the military operations of the United States in the Afghan war.

Ecuador has said that it granted asylum to Assange because neither the United Kingdom nor Sweden guaranteed that they would stop an extradition to the United States, where Assange claims he has been secretly indicted by a grand jury and could face life in prison or even the death penalty.

In the aftermath of Assange's fleeing to the Ecuadorian Embassy the United Kingdom allegedly sent a diplomatic letter to the embassy of Ecuador, saying they would use an old British law that would allow them to legally force entry into Ecuador's embassy to arrest Assange. However, numerous commentators have said that such a move would violate the Vienna Convention of 1961 that declares that all foreign embassies are "inviolate and must not be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission."

As a response to that letter, the members of the UNASUR signed a letter titled "Declaration of Guayaquil in support to the Republic of Ecuador," in which the signature countries state that they "condemn the threat of the use of force between states," and reiterate "the right of each state to grant asylum."

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela are some of the members of the UNASUR.

Assange has taken to the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy to address reporters, claiming that the United States is threatening freedom of speech. He said, "While WikiLeaks is under threat, so will be the freedom of speech and the health of our societies…I ask President Obama to do what's right: That the United States stops with its witch hunting against WikiLeaks."

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, said on Tuesday that it would be "suicide for Great Britain" if authorities tried to enter Ecuador's embassy by force "because then people could enter their (British) diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn't be able to say a thing."

Correa has also claimed that the alleged threat "violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale."