Ecuador spent around $1 million a year protecting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside their Embassy in London before eventually handing him over to British authorities, the country’s Foreign Minister revealed on Thursday.
Addressing the country’s National Assembly on Thursday, Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs José Valencia revealed that accommodating Assange has cost a staggering $6,517,000 since the country granted him asylum in their London Embassy in 2012.
“Ecuador allocated five million eight hundred seventeen thousand dollars ($ 5,817,000) in security for Assange and almost 400,000 dollars in medical expenses, food, and laundry,” Valencia said. “We fulfilled our part: as of June 2018, the State reduced these expenses by 40%: 600,000 dollars in one year as security.”
Amid rising costs, the Ecuadorian government demanded that Assange cover his own bills from December last year. However, relations between Assange and President Lenin Moreno’s administration began to break down over diplomatic concerns about his activities. Assange and his supports claim the 47-year-old was forced to live in dire conditions and under constant surveillance.
The moment #Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is arrested at Ecuadorian embassy in London
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 11, 2019
Relations between the two sides continued to deteriorate so severely that this week the government allowed police into the building to arrest him. In an interview this week, Moreno said that Assange had “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum.
“We should ensure Mr. Assange’s life is not at risk but he’s violated the agreement we have with him so many times,” he complained. “Mr. Assange has violated the agreement we reached with him and his legal counsel too many times. It is not that he cannot speak and express himself freely, but he cannot lie, nor much less hack private accounts or phones.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that he had been arrested on behalf of the United States, who planned to extradite him to face charges of computer hacking.
“Julian Assange has been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station,” they said. “This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.”
WikiLeaks was considered an influential factor in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, after releasing damaging leaks exposing corruption and malpractice within Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Donald Trump often cited the leaks in his campaign speeches, at one point declaring that he “loved” the organization, but on Thursday sought to distance himself from Assange’s arrest.
“I know nothing about Wikileaks. It’s not my thing,” Trump said when asked about the incident. “I know nothing really about it – it’s not my deal in life.”