03:16 GMT +309 December 2019
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    A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds banners outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he marks three years since Assange claimed asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2015.

    Guard Removal From Assange Embassy Hideout Linked to Public Discontent

    © AFP 2019 / Justin Tallis
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    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange case (74)

    Public discontent with the permanent police presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been taking refuge, was a factor in the decision by UK police to withdraw guards, London Metropolitan Police chief said Wednesday.

    LONDON (Sputnik) — In an exclusive interview with Britain’s Evening Standard newspaper, Met police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said that the cost of having guards posted outside the embassy around the clock was "relatively small" and not a concern despite the $1.5-billion cuts to the Met police budget projected over the next four years.

    "It seems a disproportionate response to continue with it and we think the public are not necessarily supportive of it," the head of Scotland Yard stated.

    Hogan-Howe confirmed that covert policing at the embassy would continue, adding Assange would be detained he were to attempt to leave the premises.

    On Tuesday, London police said they would end their 24/7 presence outside the Ecuadorean embassy, begun over three years ago when Assange was granted refuge in a successful attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities since 2010 on accusations of sexual coercion and rape.

    The WikiLeaks founder argues that Sweden’s rape charges are a ploy to extradite him to the United States, where he is wanted for publishing thousands of leaked top-secret military documents and diplomatic cables.

    British authorities have reportedly spent almost $20 million monitoring Assange since he was first arrested in December 2010, according to a numeric counter on the govwaste.co.uk website.

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange case (74)


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