Q: How long can Julian Assange stay in the Ecuadorean embassy in London?
A: Probably as long as the Ecuador government is happy to host him there. Unless the UK government is prepared to declare all the Ecuadorean diplomats persona non grata, so that the embassy would have to close up and all the Ecuadoreans go home. The cops could then grab him.
If Ecuador could make Julian a citizen of Ecuador, which probably depends on their Constitution, then he could probably go to Heathrow and get on a plane to eg the Galapagos Islands. He might have to give up his Oz nationality, perhaps not too great a cost. International law frowns on nationalities of convenience, however, plural nationality is surely the way of the future.
Julian may be exaggerating the danger of US extradition but he is right to be wary, even if most people accept that as the Monty Python team would say, he's not a terrorist, "he's just a very naughty boy."
With criminal allegations against Roman Catholic priests in the news, not for the first time, the question of international legal status for the Catholic Church/ Vatican City/ Holy See comes up.
Is the Catholic Church like any other global faith-based movement from a legal point of view -- Bah'ai, Anglican, Scientology -- or does it have special status that confers some kind of immunity on its officials? Is the Pope some kind of Head of State?
Geoffrey Robertson argues that the claims for statehood, or anything like statehood, are bogus, and I agree.
The relationships between the Vatican, the Holy See, the office of the Pope, and the worldwide Catholic Church are immensely complicated. That is ok -- faith-based movements can organise themselves in complicated ways if they want.
It is also ok for the state of Italy to allow special privileges for the section of Rome occupied by the Vatican.