Ecuador vs The U.K.: the Diplomatic Showdown Over Julian Assange

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Twitter: @AndreaGompf

This morning, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced that Ecuador will grant diplomatic asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, exacerbating the country’s already tense diplomatic relationship with the U.K. For the last two months, Ecuador’s London embassy has been harboring Assange while he fights extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of rape and sexual assault. Several hours after Ecuador’s announcement, the U.K.’s Foreign Minister William Hague announced that Assange will not be allowed safe passage out of the U.K.

In a nutshell, this means that while in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is protected from British arrest (assuming the U.K. doesn’t revoke the embassy’s diplomatic status, which it has threatened to do). However, the minute he tries to set foot outside, he’s basically toast. This creates an unfortunate impasse that could take years to resolve, as it doesn’t seem likely that either side will change their position any time soon. I mean, we all remember when Hungarian cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty camped out at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest for almost 20 years. JK I don’t remember that at all, but Google told me it happened when I was doing a little research on diplomatic situations of this variety. The point is, it doesn’t look like Assange is going anywhere.

While many media outlets are referring to this situation as a diplomatic crisis, I think there is a hidden opportunity here for Assange. A silver lining, if you will: to develop the world’s first bilingual hip-hopera, titled “TRAPPED IN THE CONSULATE” (obvi).

Hear me out. Unlike other, more over-saturated music genres, the hip-hopera genre remains relatively open. There was 2001’s very literally-titled “Carmen: A Hip Hopera,” and then there was R. Kelly’s magnum opus “Trapped in the Closet.” That’s more or less it.  It has now been five years since R. Kelly released any episodes of Trapped in the Closet, and while he is reportedly searching for funding to develop more for IFC this year, we are left with a serious hip-hopera void in the meantime. Which means there is definitely room for another major player in the field, especially one that comes with ready-made scandalous plot twists, including but not limited to: hacking convictions, political persecution, sex crime allegations, assassination threats, and multi-nation diplomatic crises. Plus, based on reports about Assange’s stay in the Ecuador embassy thus far (as well reports on his general etiquette as a house guest), things have the potential to get even weirder than they already are. Consider the following quote, which was subsequently redacted from today’s NY Times article on the Assange diplomatic situation:

“In an interview with The New York Times in early 2011, Mr. Domscheit-Berg added that Mr. Assange had refused to flush the toilet during his entire stay.”

Um. Also, this from the same article:

“Some of Mr. Assange’s friends have encouraged him to put on music and dance as a way of getting physical activity.”

I don’t mean to make light of Assange’s plight, but the image of him dancing around the embassy and clogging all of their toilets is kind of hilarious to me. Lots of dramatic potential there, JUST SAYIN’. Plus we all know that some of the most significant works of art have been inspired by moments of extreme personal distress and affliction. There’s no doubt the Assange well runs deep in that respect. What else is he going to do while he’s holed up in the embassy all day every day? As for his actual musical ability – or lack thereof – I propose the easy fix so liberally employed by working musicians T Paine and Flo Rida: Autotune. Dat. Track.

Julian, if you or one of  the web crawlers you have surveilling the entire internet are reading this: just consider my suggestion. Trapped in the Consulate could be really special. You need this. We need this.