Julian Assange’s predecessor

As you know, on Feb 11 Julian Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after spending close to 7 years there. The story so far:


But there was an even longer stay of this kind, from 1956 to 1971 in the US embassy in Budapest. The name of Cardinal Mindszenty may not ring a bell today, but this should help:




A somewhat related story pertains to South Africa during the apartheid era. I must have read about this in the 1980s but cannot locate a reference now.

During the heyday of apartheid and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and other activists, a few junior activists feared arrest and took refuge in the British consulate in Durban.

While Durban is one of the larger cities in South Africa, the British felt it did not deserve a full-fledged consulate and thus their diplomatic staff were working from a few offices in a regular office block. So much so that their offices did not even have attached toilets and their staff had to walk to toilets in a different part of the building.

The South African security police (called BOSS if I remember right) soon arrived there and could not do anything right away as their prey was under British consular protection. But it was soon pointed out that their protection and immunity would cease the moment they left the office to go to the toilet.

One can imagine the diplomatic exchanges which would have gone on. After a few hours the British staff must have persuaded the South African activists to leave, right into the hands of BOSS.

Meanwhile, Ecuador is at least famous for a while for something other than the Galapagos tortoises.