Ecuador embassy reveals huge sum it spent on keeping Julian Assange safe
Saturday - 13/04/2019 21:22
The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has released the whopping sum it spent on keeping Julian Assange safe during his seven-year stay.
Julian Assange’s seven-year stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London cost the South American country $A9 million (£5 million), it has emerged.
Foreign Minister Jose Valencia released the figures as he detailed the money that had been spent on keeping the 47-year-old Wikileaks founder after he entered the embassy on August 16 2012.
Most — nearly $A8 million (£4.5 million) — was spent on security, The Sun reported.
But Mr Valencia also told the country’s legislators $A557,000 (£305,000) went on medical expenditure, food and washing his clothes.
He revealed another $A437,000 (£230,000) was spent on legal advice the Australian received in 2012.
The Ecuadorian government said Assange, arrested on Thursday after his diplomatic asylum was withdrawn by the country’s president Lenin Moreno, had paid for his own upkeep since the start of last December.
Government sources have said the same money could have funded 155 council houses, 88 community schools and a health centre.
The cost to British taxpayers of the policing operation outside the embassy has been put at more than $A5.5 million (£3 million), although they have also footed the bill for covert surveillance and several court appearances.
The Ecuadorian government went public with the cost of keeping Assange after the country’s Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo claimed his bad behaviour at the embassy had included smearing faeces on the walls.
She said after his arrest: "During his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy, during the government of the former president Rafael Correa, they tolerated things like Mr Assange putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other types of behaviour of this kind that is far removed from the minimum respect a guest should have in a country which has generously welcomed him."
Assange is facing up to 12 months in a British jail after being found guilty on Thursday afternoon at Westminster Magistrates Court of skipping bail in 2012 to seek refuge at the embassy over rape allegations which led to Sweden requesting his arrest.
He now faces a battle against extradition to America where he is wanted for espionage and publication of sensitive government documents.
His lawyers fear he will face the death penalty, a claim rubbished by President Moreno who said Britain had confirmed it would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death sentence.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said after the arrest: “Great Britain has offered guarantees that if a third country presented an extradition request, Mr Assange would not be handed over to any nation that could impose the death penalty or where he could be subjected to torture.”
Julian Assange’s mum Christine has pledged to “fight like hell” for him.
ASSANGE MAY FACE EXTRADITION TO SWEDEN
This comes as British MPs urge the government to prioritise Assange’s extradition to Sweden if prosecutors reopen an investigation of an alleged rape there.
Stella Creasy of the opposition Labour Party said the group wanted to “stand with victims of sexual violence” amid concerns the Swedish case could be sidelined as the Conservative government focuses on a US extradition request for Assange.
Ms Creasy, who organised an open letter from the group, urged British ministers to be “champions of action to ensure Julian Assange faces Swedish authorities and is extradited there if they so request”.
“My objection was to his extradition to the United States because I do believe that WikiLeaks told us the truth about what was actually happening in Afghanistan and in Iraq.”
The rape allegation came after Assange’s visit to Sweden in 2010.
He departed Sweden for Britain, and in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London after he lost a legal battle against extradition to Sweden amid fears he would be handed over to US authorities for WikiLeaks’ publication of top secret US diplomatic cables.
This article was originally published in The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.