Ecuador withdraws extra Assange security after colossal cost revealed | SBS News  5/18/2018 6:10:51 AM 

Ecuador President Lenin Moreno has ordered the withdrawal of additional security assigned to the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has remained for almost six years.

The Australian took refuge in the small diplomatic headquarters in 2012 to avoid sexual abuse charges in Sweden. He rejects the charges and prosecutors have abandoned their investigation.

However, British authorities are still seeking his arrest.

"The President of the Republic, Lenin Moreno, has ordered that any additional security at the Ecuadorean embassy in London be withdrawn immediately," the government said in a statement.

"From now on, it will maintain normal security similar to that of other Ecuadorean embassies," the statement said.

Ecuador suspended Assange's communication systems in March after his pointed political comments on Twitter.

Moreno has described Assange's situation as "a stone in his shoe."

The Ecuadorian embassy will remove additional security measures.
The Ecuadorian embassy will remove additional security measures.

The news comes after Wikileaks threatened to sue over a news report that Ecuador spent $5 million on a spy operation to protect Assange.

Documents seen by The Guardian allege at least $5 million was spent by Ecuador's government on a spy operation to protect Assange over the years. More than half of the money was reportedly spent on three undercover agents for services labelled "intelligence and counter-intelligence operations".

The report by The Guardian and news website Focus Ecuador says Ecuador's president at the time, Rafael Correa, and foreign minister Ricardo Patiño approved the so-called "Operation Hotel".

The secretive project cost around $66,000 a month, the report claimed, and included security costs, protected internet access and the monitoring of Mr Assange's visitors to the embassy.

“Hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists” were among those who were potentially monitored during their meetings with Assange, the report claims.

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