London’s Metropolitan Police Service has ordered its officers to abandon their post outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy, ending for now a 3-year-long presence that has prevented WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange from leaving the building without risking immediate arrest.
Mr. Assange, 44, entered the embassy in June 2012 and was granted political asylum by President Rafael Correa, but the WikiLeaks’ chief has been unable to travel in the three years since as a result of the unrelenting police presence that has forced him to stay inside during the duration of his stay.
“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,” the police said in Monday’s statement.
“Whilst no tactics guarantee success in the event of Julian Assange leaving the embassy, the MPS will deploy a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him,” the MPS said.
Mr. Assange has not formally been charged with any crimes.
The U.K. government has spent the equivalent of more than $19 million to monitor Mr. Assange from outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy since June 2012, according to WikiLeaks.