Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Assange embassy gamble follows famous precedents

Story highlights

  • Julian Assange is seeking to avoid extradition by claiming asylum at an embassy
  • Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng spent six days at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing
  • A Catholic cardinal lived in an embassy in Hungary for 15 years
  • Manuel Noriega sought refuge in the Vatican embassy in Panama in 1989

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is trying to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden over allegations of rape and other sex crimes by seeking asylum at the embassy of Ecuador in London. Assange's move is dramatic, but he's not the first person to seek an escape route through a diplomatic mission. Here are some key precedents.

Chen Guangcheng. U.S. Embassy in Beijing, 2012. The self-taught lawyer and activist escaped house arrest one night in April and fled to the U.S. Embassy, where he spent six days before leaving for medical treatment. Chen later flew out of China with his family for a fellowship at New York University.

Ecuador grants asylum to WikiLeaks' Assange

Jozsef Mindszenty. U.S. Embassy in Hungary, 1956-1971. Vocally anti-Communist Hungarian Catholic Cardinal Mindszenty lived in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest for 15 years after the Soviet-led invasion of his country. He finally agreed to go into exile and died in Austria in 1975.

Assange will be arrested if he comes out of embassy in London, police rep. says

Svetlana Alliluyeva. U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, 1967. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's only daughter got permission to bring her lover's ashes to India, then defected by walking into the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and burning her passport. She lived in the United States as Lana Peters until her death last November.

      Just Watched

      Assange granted asylum in Ecuador

    Assange granted asylum in Ecuador 02:42
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      Chen Guangcheng's life in New York

    Chen Guangcheng's life in New York 02:15
    PLAY VIDEO

    Manuel Noriega. Vatican Embassy in Panama City, 1989. U.S. forces invaded Panama to topple and arrest Noriega, prompting the dictator to seek refuge in the Holy See's mission. American troops set up large speakers around the compound, blaring music at all hours, a psychological ploy to rattle the general. He surrendered after 10 days and was taken to the United States for trial. He was found guilty of drug trafficking and other crimes.

    Wang Lijun. U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, 2012. One of China's best-known police chiefs sought refuge at a U.S. consulate amid a mystery over the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, a family friend of Wang's boss, top Communist party official Bo Xilai. The case was reopened after Wang's intervention, which appeared to implicate Bo -- but Wang was taken into Chinese custody when he left the diplomatic mission and has not been seen since.

    Why Assange needs Ecuador and Ecuador needs Assange

        WikiLeaks

      • Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gather in southeast London in February 2011.

        From "Climategate" to leaked diplomatic cables, CNN takes an inside look at the WikiLeaks organization.
      • A U.S. soldier imprisoned for leaking documents to WikiLeaks broke her silence in a fiery editorial accusing the United States of lying about Iraq.
      • Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted from court on July 25, 2013 in Fort Meade, Maryland on July 25, 2013. The trial of Manning, accused of 'aiding the enemy' by giving secret documents to WikiLeaks, is entering its final stage Thursday as both sides present closing arguments. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

        A military judge acquitted Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy, but convicted him of violations of the Espionage Act for turning over a trove of classified data to the website WikiLeaks.
      • Pfc. Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents

        Bradley Manning is naturally adept at computers, smart and opinionated, even brash, according to those who say they know him.
      • assange snowden

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged the world to "stand with" Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs.
      • Do you aspire to be the next Julian Assange or create a site like WikiLeaks? You'll have your work cut out for you.

        Julian Assange is waiting to hear if Ecuador will grant him asylum. He's dangling from a cliff, for sure. Hanging by a pinky next to him -- WikiLeaks.
      • shubert julian assange elections embassy short_00005904

        Holed up in Ecuador's Embassy in London, Julian Assange talks at length about his life and motivations.
      • lkl elbagir assange next move_00002403

        Assange's move is dramatic, but he's not the first person to seek an escape route through a diplomatic mission. Here are some key precedents.
      • assange

        Assange is a self-appointed champion of free speech and the founder of a web operation that has greatly antagonized the U.S. government.