British police say they will no longer stand guard outside London’s Ecuadorian embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took refuge in 2012.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said it had “withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the embassy” but would strengthen a “covert plan” to prevent his departure.
“The operation to arrest Julian Assange does however continue and should he leave the embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him,” it said.
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Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange about a rape claim, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations that expires in 2020.
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The 44-year-old Australian also fears that if he leaves he could eventually face extradition to the United States and a trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
Business Insider’s headline, later changed, referred to Assange’s embassy lodgings as a “>bolt-hole.