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Scotlond Shells Out 10 Million Pounds for Assange's Security

Published: 06th February 2015 05:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2015 05:34 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

LONDON: Scotland Yard has spent around 10 million pounds for providing a 24-hour guard at the Ecuadorean embassy here since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed asylum there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime charges.

Assange, 43, who denies allegations he sexually assaulted two women in Sweden, faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Scotland Yard confirmed the cost of the operation to UK taxpayers by October 2014 had reached 9 million pounds.

The cost of a further three months policing is now expected to have taken the total bill to about 10 million pounds.

The figures, which equate to more than 10,000 pounds a day, were obtained by LBC radio under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Metropolitan Police said the costs were covered by the budget for diplomatic protection, which provides policing for embassies in the UK.

"It is embarrassing to see the UK government spending more on surveillance and detaining an uncharged political refugee than on its investigation into the Iraq war, which killed hundreds of thousands," said WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Assange should go to Sweden and "face justice". "[Sweden] is a country of impeccable democratic credentials with a well-respected judicial system that says [Julian Assange] should go to Sweden to face very serious allegations and charges of potential rape. Of course the right thing for him to do is to do that, is to face justice," he said.

In August last year, Assange indicated he would "soon" leave the embassy, where he has now been for more than 950 days, but he remains inside.

Swedish authorities want to question Assange over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture in 2010.

A Swedish appeal court upheld an arrest warrant against Assange in November 2014. UK courts have repeatedly ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning. But Assange fears he could be extradited to the US to face charges over the release of top-secret documents by Wikileaks.

He entered the embassy after the UK's Supreme Court dismissed his bid to reopen his appeal against extradition.

He was then granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012  He has been warned he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy, prompting the 24-hour guard by Metropolitan Police officers.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: "We are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden. As ever we look to Ecuador to help bring this difficult, and costly, situation to an end."

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