Scotland Yard calls off 24-hour watch on Julian Assange

Police outside the Ecuadorian Embassy during a freedom demonstration.

JULIAN ASSANGE, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, which revealed American military secrets over the Internet, claimed asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 in order to prevent extradition and since then the Metropolitan Police have had a 24-hour guard around the building in case he came out.

Now, after spending £12.6 million (€16.8 million) on officers’ wages, overtime and additional costs, the Met has decided that it is “no longer proportionate” to continue the watch, but stated that they would arrest him, in the event that he left the building and was spotted by a passing police officer.

The BBC reports that Scotland Yard said that “resources are finite” and there were “so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city.

“The Metropolitan Police Service has to balance the interests of justice in this case with the ongoing risks to the safety of Londoners and all those we protect, investigating crime and arresting offenders wanted for serious offences, in deciding what a proportionate response is,” it said.

However, the force also said it would be deploying “a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him.”

Mr Assange claimed asylum under the under the 1951 Refugee Convention as he was wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged sexual offences and he was of the opinion that if he went to Sweden to give evidence, he would be extradited to the USA for releasing secret US documents.

Although the Swedish authorities have dropped a number of the cases, there is still an allegation of rape against him and the Swedish Government is trying to broker a deal with the Ecuadorians to arrange for him to be handed over to the authorities.

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