The Ecuadorean president has warned Britain not to attempt to enter his country's embassy in London to seize Julian Assange, claiming that to do so would be an act of political suicide that would leave the U.K.'s diplomatic premises vulnerable the world over.
Speaking on state television days after his government announced it had decided to grant the WikiLeaks founder political asylum, Rafael Correa showed little sign of seeking to ease tensions with Britain, which threatened last week to use an obscure piece of legislation to enter the Ecuadorean embassy and arrest the Australian.
"I think it would be suicidal for the United Kingdom," he said, according to the Spanish news agency Efe. "After that, the diplomatic premises of [the U.K.] in other territories could be violated all over the world." Such a move, he added, would be "disastrous" for all countries, but especially for Britain.
Downing Street has said Britain is committed to seeking a diplomatic solution with Ecuador in the stand-off over Assange, whom it insists it is obliged to extradite to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denies.
Last week, as Ecuador prepared to announce its decision to grant Assange asylum, Foreign Office officials in Quito delivered a letter to the Ecuadorean government in which they claimed a legal right under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 to revoke an embassy's diplomatic status.
The threat provoked an angry response from Correa. Asked on Monday night whether he thought there was any chance the British authorities would carry out its threat, the BBC reported that the president said: "While the United Kingdom hasn't retracted or apologized, the danger still exists."