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Standoff costs London police millions

London AFP-JIJI

The cost of keeping police round-the-clock outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in case Julian Assange emerges has hit $4.5 million, British police said Friday.

Officers have been stationed outside ever since the WikiLeaks founder jumped bail and fled there on June 19 after losing his battle in the British courts against extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault. Ecuador has granted him political asylum.

Scotland Yard police headquarters estimated the total cost to the end of January at $4.5 million — $3.6 million in salary for the officers stationed on duty and the rest in overtime payments.

A spokesman at the Ecuadorean Embassy said: “The Ecuadorean government is concerned by the significant cost to the taxpayers of London of policing the embassy.

“However, we believe this expenditure could be avoided if the U.K. government would provide the undertakings that the Ecuadorean government has sought that there will be no onward extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

“The Home Office (Britain’s interior ministry) has the power to offer such an assurance but has so far declined to do so.

“Until we obtain these undertakings, the Ecuadorean government will continue to protect Julian Assange’s human rights that are enshrined in international law.”