Met police have stopped guarding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Madeline Ratcliffe
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Assange has sought refuge at the embassy since 2012 (Source: Getty)

The Met police have stopped guarding the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been sheltering for the past three years.

The Met police tweeted that they have removed the officers who have stood guard outside the embassy since Assange sought refuge in June 2012, citinga “strengthened overt plan at [the] Ecuadorian embassy”.

Read more: In quotes - Julian Assange's 1,500 days at the Ecuadorian embassy

Assange was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant in December 2010, and ordered to face criminal charges for rape in Sweden, but he skipped bail and has been in the embassy since.

As of June, the bill for guarding Assange 24/7 was £11.1m.

The Met said in a statement it had discussed the decision with the Home and Foreign Offices and had to balance the interests of justice with the safety of Londoners and “investigating crime and arresting offenders wanted for serious offences”.

It said it “remains committed to executing the arrest warrant and presenting Julian Assange before the court, [but] it is only right that the policing operation to achieve this is continually reviewed against the diplomatic and legal efforts to resolve the situation... And there is no imminent prospect of a resolution to this issue.

“The operation to arrest Julian Assange does, however, continue and should he leave the Embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him. However, it is no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence.”

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