UK police stop guarding Ecuadorian Embassy for Assange

London police end 24/7 surveillance of Ecuadorian Embassy for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has lived there since 2012

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of the media report from opposite the embassy of Ecuador in central London, October 12, 2015

London police announced on Monday that they ended a round the clock guard outside the Ecuador embassy where Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been in asylum since 2012.

Police said it will continue the operation with a “number of overt or covert tactics” to arrest him.

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of London cited economic reasons and lack of a solution in the near future.

“Like all public services, MPS resources are finite,” therefore “the current deployment of officers is no longer believed proportionate," the police said.

It’s estimated that the guarding cost MPS 12.6 million pounds ($19 million) in last three years. 

Police also added that “there is no imminent prospect of a diplomatic or legal resolution to this issue.”

Assange had taken refuge in the London embassy of Ecuador in 2012 after rape allegations were filed against him in Sweden, which he denies and says the intercourse was consensual.

The UK has a “legal obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden,” the Foreign Office said.

Assange, on the other hand, believes that his being questioned in Sweden will end with his extradition to the US, where he’ll face a trial for leakage of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesman said the UK could have solved the problem a long time ago by “giving an absolute guarantee that Julian would not be extradited to the United States.”

Xavier Lasso, Ecuador's deputy Foreign Minister, said they made "substantial advances" toward an agreement with Sweden about questioning Assange inside the embassy. He said a new meeting would be held later this month in Quito, the country’s capital.

He also said the removal of police is "a coherent step. It's what we've been asking the British to do all along in the face of their complaint that it costs a lot."

TRTWorld and agencies