Met Police ends 24/7 surveillance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Met ends 24/7 surveillance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The Metropolitan Police has officially ended its constant surveillance operations at the Ecuadorian Embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living for three years.

Assange entered the embassy in June 2012 after being granted political asylum following legal wrangles over an alleged sexual assault, and has been under 24/7 surveillance by police ever since.

However, the Met has come under increasing pressure as the financial burden of guarding the building quickly mounted to over £11m.

The force said in a statement that it is “no longer proportionate” to continue the operation.

“A significant amount of time has passed since Julian Assange entered the embassy and, despite the efforts of many people, there is no imminent prospect of a diplomatic or legal resolution to this issue,” it said.

“Whilst the Metropolitan Police Service [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.

“As a result of this continual review the MPS has today Monday, 12 October withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the embassy.”

However, the Met will continue to “deploy a number of overt and covert tactics” with the aim of arresting Assange, who has led the global whistleblowing platform since its inception in 2006.

The Met did not elaborate on what this new form of surveillance would entail or how much it will cost.

WikiLeaks has released a significant amount of classified documents submitted by whistleblowers around the world, from trade deals to Iraq war logs.

Notable releases include the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which documented a number of killings by US forces in Baghdad during 2007, a huge release of diplomatic government cables in 2010 and, most recently, the leaking of the final text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In July this year, WikiLeaks published more than a million searchable emails from Italian surveillance firm Hacking Team, which led to the discovery of contracts signed with repressive governments, including those of Sudan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

Meanwhile in August Swedish prosecutors dropped a number of cases against Assange for alleged sexual assault after the Statute of Limitations on the charges expired.

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12 October 2015 | 3:00 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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