- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ecuador raised concerns with British authorities Tuesday after police in London allegedly took more than two hours to respond to reports of an attempted break-in at its embassy in London, the residence of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

An unidentified man scaled the wall and window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London at 2:47 a.m. Monday before he was physically confronted by security and fled the scene, WikiLeaks said through its Twitter account minutes after the event reportedly occurred.

The foreign ministry in Quito confirmed the incident Tuesday and said it has provided diplomatic police in London with evidence of the attempted break-in.

“According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), the host country has the special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of any diplomatic mission against any form of intrusion or harm. In this case, the security of the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.K. is the responsibility of the British authorities,” Ecuador said in a statement.

“The Ecuadorian Government therefore expresses its concern about the inadequate response by the British authorities, who only arrived at the embassy more than two hours after the incident took place.”

London’s Metropolitan Police Dept. said its officers were notified at about 4:50 a.m. local time, The Times reported.

“Detectives from Kensington and Chelsea’s CID are leading the investigation alongside colleagues from the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue,” an agency spokesman said, according to the newspaper.

In its statement, Ecuador acknowledged that the apparent delay happened in spite of an around-the-clock law enforcement operation concerning Mr. Assange that has cost British authorities millions of dollars since the WikiLeaks editor took residence there in 2012.

Mr. Assange, 45, was granted asylum by Ecuador in the face of an arrest warrant being issued in Sweden where he’s wanted for questioning over accusations of rape. Six years after becoming the target of a federal investigation in the United States for his role in publishing classified government documents, Mr. Assange has said he fears being taken into custody by either British or Sweden authorities will lend to him being extradited to the U.S.

Last week, his attorney formally asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to end the Justice Department’s investigation.

British authorities reportedly spent up to $16 million guarding the embassy during only the first three years of Mr. Assange’s residency there.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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