Cost of policing the embassy in London where Julian Assange is NZ$20 million – and counting

February 6, 2015 10:14 am

For those who don’t know yet, it is important you know that the cost of policing the embassy in where has
been holed up since mid-2012 has now topped £10 million (NZ$20.6
million).
A London radio station has crunched the numbers after a
freedom of information request revealed the Metropolitan Police had
spent £9 million (NZ$18.6 million) guarding the diplomatic mission to
the end of October 2014.
That’s £10,500 (NZ$21,700) per day and,
given Assange has been inside the embassy for 960 days since June 19,
2012, the total figure to date is now just over £10 million.
A frustrated British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the Australian should leave the embassy and “face justice”.

Julian Assange – seen here in a 2009 file photo – has cost the British
taxpayer nearly $20m since he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in
2012. Photo / AP

The WikiLeaks founder is avoiding extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault.

Assange fears if he’s extradited he could subsequently be sent
to the United States and charged over the website’s release of
classified documents.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office says the government remains committed to reaching a “diplomatic solution”.
“We
are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be
extradited to Sweden,” a spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday.
“As ever we look to Ecuador to help bring this difficult, and costly, situation to an end.”
London
deputy mayor for policing and crime Stephen Greenhalgh acknowledges the
£10 million figure is “an eye-watering amount of money”.
“We do need a diplomatic solution,” he told British website The Telegraph.
“But ultimately it is the taxpayer that foots the bill.”
London
radio station LBC calculates the money spent policing the embassy could
have paid for 343 police officers to patrol the city’s streets for a
year.
Mr Clegg was asked by a caller why the government didn’t close the Ecuadorean embassy “and arrest him (Assange) on the way out”.
“Am I frustrated that this goes on and on like this and taxpayers are picking up the tab? Yes sure,” the deputy PM told LBC.
“(But) just imagine the frustration of the Swedish government.
“It’s
hardly an illiberal rogue state. Of course the right thing for him
(Assange) to do is face justice in a country where due process is well
established.”
Mr Clegg said the embassy couldn’t be closed
because “the whole point of having embassies is to maintain a link
between countries even at moments of tension”.
On the cost of
policing, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said: “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.”
WikiLeaks on
Thursday also released footage of a brief interview with Sweden’s
director general of legal affairs, Anders Ronquist, in which he declared
someone could be held indefinitely until they were charged.
Assange
says that comment means Sweden has “imported Guantanamo’s most shameful
legal practice – indefinite detention without charge”.
A Swedish
appeal court in mid-November refused to set aside a detention order
granted in late 2010 over allegations Assange, now 43, molested and
raped two women.
But in the process the court criticised prosecutors for allowing the investigation to stall.

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