- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2015

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.

“Whilst the MPS remains committed to executing the arrest warrant and presenting Julian Assange before the court, it is only right that the policing operation to achieve this is continually reviewed against the diplomatic and legal efforts to resolve the situation,” British police said in a statement on Monday.

“As a result of this continual review the MPS has today Monday, 12 October withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the Embassy.”

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 is wanted for questioning in Sweden with regards to allegations of sexual misconduct, but he has refused to travel there because he fears he will be subsequently extradited to the U.S. and imprisoned for crimes related to the unauthorized publication of government documents by his website, WikiLeaks. He has not formally been charged with any crimes.

Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the source responsible for several of the anti-secrecy site’s publications, is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence in an American military jail, and said she turned down a plea deal ahead of trial that would have required her to testify against Mr. Assange.

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.

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