LONDON – The UK Foreign Office announced on Thursday that the British ambassador in Quito would make a formal protest to the Ecuadorian government regarding the decision of its embassy in London to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“Ecuador must recognize that its decision to harbor Mr. Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice. As a result, some of the serious sexual allegations against him will now expire,” Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, Hugo Swire said.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, while British police revealed last June that guarding the embassy since 2012 has cost the public treasury at least 11.1 million sterling pounds ($17.32 million).
“It is completely unacceptable that the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations,” he noted.
Swedish prosecutors had to drop investigations related to two accusations leveled against Assange for sexual assault committed in 2010, as the statute of limitation ran out after five years.
“I have instructed our ambassador in Quito to reiterate to Ecuador that the continuing failure to expedite the Swedish prosecutor’s interview, and to bring this situation to an end, is being seen as a growing stain on the country’s reputation,” the minister noted.
“I will also repeat this to the Ecuadorean ambassador in London,” Swire added.
Earlier on Thursday, Assange defended himself in saying, “From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement.”
However, conducting the interrogation inside the embassy would require the authorization of both the British and Ecuadorian authorities, which was never obtained.