Given the ending of Rogue One...

...it is obvious that the Imperials and Vader know that the Tantive IV ship was just engaged in a rebellion battle.

Therefore why does Captain Antilles, while getting choked by Darth Vader, say:

We intercepted no transmissions. ... This is a consular ship. We're on a diplomatic mission.

Why would he say such an obviously false lie? Especially when it is his last words?

  • 11
    its his cover story; if he's "offically" a diplomat and Vader can't prove otherwise, "officially" Vader is breaking the law. Not that Vader cares, but since you're gonna die anyway, no harm in trying.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:35
  • 3
    Because it's a continuity error?
    – Buzz
    Dec 17, 2016 at 0:05
  • I haven't seen it, so pardon the speculation, but since you mention it is his last words... there is perhaps little benefit to admitting the truth, since he would likely get tortured for information first, then killed anyway - so no personal gain for telling the truth, especially not if he believes in his cause. On the other hand, if he kept the cover through the bitter end, maybe he thought there was a chance it might spare others, perhaps planting doubts in the enemy's minds about the truth - especially if others keep up the cover even after his death.
    – Megha
    Dec 17, 2016 at 6:52
  • the real question is ... WTF was leia right in the middle of a bloody battle
    – Naib
    Dec 21, 2016 at 20:32
  • 4
    Does Vader have any way of knowing for sure that the Corellian Corvette seen escaping at the end of Rogue One is the same one they catch at the beginning of ANH? It must have jumped to hyperspace in between since at the beginning of ANH it was over Tatooine. Maybe they didn't have a way of tracking the ship through hyperspace but received a report of a similar looking vehicle jumping out of hyperspace at about the right time so they made the natural deduction.
    – Hypnosifl
    Dec 24, 2016 at 4:00

6 Answers 6


Saying you're a Rebel scum with stolen information: you get tortured and killed 100% sure, and fail your mission 100% sure.

Lying your zhopa off and claiming (reasonably valid, technically speaking) Diplomatic immunity: slight chance to delay Empire or even get out of this alive, meaning there's slightly less than 100% chance you get tortured and killed and fail your mission.

Second option seems infinitely more desirable, since a very slight chance is still much better than zero chance.

  • 4
    That's pretty much what I was thinking as soon as I saw the question. What else was he gonna say? 'It's none of your business whom we have aboard or where we're going, so just buzz off, you big bully!"? (Yeah, that really would've worked.) Sticking to the cover story was highly unlikely to work if Vader already had strong reason to think this was a Rebel Alliance vessel, but nobody saw any better options on the table . . . and it was at least conceivable that Vader would hesitate to "rock the boat" where diplomatic immunity was concerned.
    – Lorendiac
    Dec 17, 2016 at 0:28
  • 3
    Especially considering the ship is already way the hell out in the Outer Rim, nowhere near Alderaan, in Hutt Space. Plus when confronted, it flees from a Star Destroyer, firing on them. And then when boarded, the ship is full of rebel soldiers firing on the stormtroopers. Hmmm...wonder if this really isn't a consular ship, guys? It was a hail mary play, no doubt.
    – TVann
    Dec 22, 2016 at 15:05

Pablo Hidalgo was asked this question on Twitter; according to him, the mere fact of being on a consular ship is enough to give the crew diplomatic immunity:

enter image description here

@HalfshellSeacon: Why do Leia and Antilles pretend to not be rebels, when they just launched out of a rebel command ship? It's an odd denial.

@pablohidalgo: They're in a consular ship. That gives 'em diplomatic immunity. Or would've if not for Vader's insistence.

Vader, of course, has no respect for that sort of thing, and knows that those rules are going to be meaningless soon anyway, once the Imperial Senate is dismantled.


Diplomatic immunity still meant something

Remember that, at that point, the Senate still was functioning, to the point that the Death Star had to be kept secret, so it was reasonable to assume that their diplomatic status would grant protection, evidenced by how Leia reprimands Vader.

It was briefly after those events that the Emperor disbanded the Senate and the Empire stopped pretending it was in any way democratic, turning to fear as a means of control.

IN any case, as others have pointed out, it's the same as someone caught red-handed committing a crime claiming to be innocent even on the face of overwhelming evidence, in order to force the authorities to undergo due process.

  • It is even difficult in real life. The grounding of Evo Morales' plane in Austria in search for Edward Snowden can be seen as a real life example of how much "diplomatic immunity" can be worth (or not) in some cases... at least it caused some diplomatic turmoil.
    – Adwaenyth
    Jan 10, 2017 at 11:21

Presumably, unless they were spectacularly incompetent, the Tantive IV was not broadcasting its ID and/or diplomatic status when they fled from the battle, and only turned it on when they were clean away.

One Corellian Corvette looks pretty much like every other from the outside, so unless the Imperials could match specific identifying details to the ship that ran away from them at the end of Rogue One, technically as long as they keep insisting they're a Consular ship on a diplomatic mission, Vader would be obligated to honor their diplomatic immunity or the Senate would certainly frown at the Emperor in a most disappointed fashion and tell him such things are not acceptable, and if Darth Vader persists they will certainly write a strongly worded letter about it.

It's a diplomatic fig leaf, yes, but it's all they have -- well, all they think they have, because the Senate has been dissolved and the Emperor no longer even pretends to care about what they have to say, but they don't know that yet.

  • I guess the next question that comes to mind is: Do ships typically have identifying details? I would assume that rebel ships meant for spy duties would remove any "license plates", but given all the details of the hulls of Star Wars ships, there must be some minor, unique customizations that make the ship identifiable.
    – Luke
    Jan 11, 2017 at 15:16

This has been addressed in the canon storybook Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. In short, the Tantive IV had the legal protection of the Senate. Theoretically that should have been enough to grant them free passage, even if the Empire suspected them of espionage (in much the same way that real-world diplomats often hide behind diplomatic immunity).

Unfortunately for Leia, the urgency of the situation, the upcoming dissolution of the Senate and the fact that Vader had no qualms about destroying the Tantive IV meant that her legal immunity was pretty much useless.

“Surely it will not come to that,” said Corla Metonae, Tantive IV’s chief petty officer and a long-serving retainer of the Organa royal household. “We’re still flying under a diplomatic flag. The Empire would not dare board us.”

Raymus considered that; technically it still held true. The Tantive IV was officially a consular ship that Leia used in the performance of her duties as Alderaan’s representative in the Galactic Senate. As a diplomat, she enjoyed special legal protections that meant not even the Imperial military could board, search, or in any way impede the free passage of her ship without her express permission. It was a broad and very convenient privilege that in the past had allowed her and Raymus to conduct acts of espionage and subterfuge right under the Empire’s nose. But now Raymus found himself doubting, given the apparent import of what had been stolen from Scarif, that it would be enough to protect them this time.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View - "Raymus" by Gary Whitta

  • This line is the most important for me: "It was a broad and very convenient privilege that in the past had allowed her and Raymus to conduct acts of espionage and subterfuge right under the Empire’s nose." -- It seems that this protection had let them get away with espionage in the past, so they figure it will work again. A bold, maybe foolish, risk ...and ultimately a bad one for Captain Raymus Antilles.
    – Luke
    Oct 9, 2017 at 1:36

Refuge in Audacity. "We were working backchannel negotiations to try and come to a peaceful solution to the problem these rebels were creating when the ship we were on suddenly took off with us aboard and they told us nothing, and there was a battle and it was horrible but fortunately we made our escape when something happened! And of course we were shooting back! You started shooting at us! We were within our rights as stated in the Treaty of Albuxijanumok to shoot back when faced with such aggression! For all we knew, a crew of rebels had seized control of a star destroyer!"

  • Id like to believe this was really the reason.. More fun than "why not lie, im going to die anyway".. Dec 25, 2016 at 10:36

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