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Government Privacy Security United Kingdom

British Police Stop 24/7 Monitoring of Julian Assange At Ecuadorian Embassy (ibtimes.co.uk) 336

Ewan Palmer writes with news that police are no longer guarding the Ecuadorian Embassy where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been taking refuge for the past three years. According to IBTImes: "London police has announced it will remove the dedicated officers who have guarded the Ecuadorian Embassy 24 hours a day, seven days a week while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seeks asylum inside. The 44-year-old has been holed up inside the building since 2012 in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges. He believes that once he is in Sweden, he will be extradited again to the US where he could face espionage charges following the leaking of thousands of classified documents on his WikiLeaks website. Police has now decided to withdraw the physical presence of officers from outside the embassy as it is 'no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence'. It is estimated the cost of deploying the officers outside the Embassy in London all day for the past three years has cost the British taxpayer more than $18m."
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British Police Stop 24/7 Monitoring of Julian Assange At Ecuadorian Embassy

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  • It's a TRAP! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Derekloffin ( 741455 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:26PM (#50714489)
    Come on now, we all know they just replaced them with under cover officers...
    • Re:It's a TRAP! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:46PM (#50714625)
      Honestly, if any entity literally ran out of money and could no longer afford an enforcement action and simply stopped for budgetary reasons similar to Lucas' first movie THX1138, I would expect it would be the British.
      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        What about the Greeks?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          What about the Greeks?

          No. Greece ran out of money in 2010. They have squandered an additional 200B euros since then. There is little reason to stop wasting money as long as someone else is paying the bills.

      • by stooo ( 2202012 )

        >>Honestly, if any entity literally ran out of money and could no longer afford an enforcement action and simply stopped for budgetary....

        it's not a law enforcement action, it's an harassment action.

      • The only real losers in this have been the UK Tax Payers and the poor saps who posted his bail for him. As for Assange himself well he can't leave his 5* hotel/embassy.
    • Re:It's a TRAP! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:47PM (#50714631)

      This hypothesis needs to be tested using an Assange look-alike.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        You do not need that. Rough similarity in body-structure and hiding his face will be enough.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      It's a trap! (Not that kind, the real kind.)

    • I guess a three year sentence was what they wanted to give him. This guy is so paranoid that he imprisoned himself for years vs just trying to face the justice system, and perhaps getting out with a fine, or even declared innocent.
      This guy had locked himself to prevent dealing with the legal systems of the UK, Sweden, and the United States. While they are not perfect and need reform, are still considered the world's fairest justice systems. Compared to the many other parts of the world where you would jus

  • Gift Horse (Score:5, Funny)

    by RDW ( 41497 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:26PM (#50714495)

    And as a gesture of goodwill, they've also left him a large wooden horse with a bow tied around it outside the embassy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 )

      And as a gesture of goodwill, they've also left him a large wooden horse with a bow tied around it outside the embassy.

      At least the British still have a degree of respect for the diplomatic status of embassies even if they have a hard time being civilised about it. If Edward Snowden had sought shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington it would probably have stood an excellent chance of been stormed by delta forces inside of 24 hours. I thought that the US Govt. showed uncharacteristic restraint when they made do with convincing France and Spain into refusing Evo Morales' jet entry and thus forced it to land in Austri

      • Re: Gift Horse (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except America has never done anything remotely like that, ever. Your story is a total fucking lie.

    • And in accordance with our ancient religions, we will ceremoniously burn it to ashes as soon as possible!

  • with those who will get the job done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:32PM (#50714537)

    Spending $18m to monitor him was surely appropriate when he was wanted for "questioning in a sexual assault case", when anyone that wanted to interview him could visit him in the embassy.

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @11:15PM (#50715273)

      I wonder who decided at which point things went from "appropriate" to "inappropriate"? Is there a government guidebook that says that spending up to $17M monitoring someone who's charged with having a quick shag in Sweden is appropriate, but once the bill reaches $18M it's getting a bit out of hand?

      Just to put this into perspective, the cost of this little adventure would have put nearly two hundred extra police on the streets over the period in which it ran. So watching one attention-seeking Australian in an embassy potentially took two hundred policemen off the streets catching actual criminals.

      • Just goes to allow how pathetic government are... $18 million to watch a building for a few years... 6 million per year, that's probably close to twenty officers at any one time.... Rediculous. What happened is simply that conservative government isn't giving big budget increases, so they have had to actual cut some of the stupid fat.
    • by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @04:25AM (#50715951)

      Why does every piece of crap the government does always cost millions? What's the salary of a police officer? Lets be generous and for easy calculation say 100k in London. Say you have three police officers involved (2 in a car, monitoring, one in the office) working 8 hour shifts, so you need three shifts, meaning 9 police officers, lets make that 10.

      10 police officers for 100k a year is a million bucks. How does it cost EIGHTEEN times as much? Give another million for the cars and surveillance equipment, office work, whatever. How are the other 16 million justified?

      • Management, overhead, replacement cost, equipment cost.

        You've got to be kidding yourselves if the cost of any operation is the sum total of the salary of those involved, and this is absolutely nothing unique to the public sector.

        Heck I internally bill my time to another department at close to 4 times my salary. That is simply made up of my salary + overheads + lost opportunity cost. It's like those people who complain that contractors make twice as much money as staff without realising that they spend half

        • I was being extremely generous with the salaries and accounted 1 million for equipment, which is ridiculous unless London police are driving Ferrari's. Sure, there are management costs, but somebody was managing these police officers anyway, whether they were monitoring Assange or not.

          Actually, I made a mistake above only considering the costs of one year. 18 million was the cost for three years of montoring.

          But even if we double the labor costs of a police officer (200.000$ a year), and multiply by three,

    • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @09:07AM (#50716793) Journal

      Can we please end this "only wanted for questioning" deception every time Assange comes up? The Swedish criminal justice system does not work like the US criminal justice system. In the US, "questioning" is just questioning, and comes at the beginning of the investigation, followed by charging, then investigation, then a trial. In the Swedish system, charging comes at the end, and is preceded immediately by questioning so the suspect has the opportunity to say "no, copper, you got it all wrong!" And that can actually work, because the Swedish investigatory system is inquisitorial rather than adversarial. But once the questioning happens, the "right to a speedy trial" bits kick in, so they cannot simply question him without the ability to immediately charge and try him. Which is the goal, as they believe they can convict him of rape.

      In the US, Assange would already be charged, and they'd be trying to bring him in for arraignment.

  • by grub ( 11606 )
    ""London police has announced it will remove the dedicated officers"

    Who and from what department is replacing them?
    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      ""London police has announced it will remove the dedicated officers" Who and from what department is replacing them?

      Maybe these guys [wikipedia.org] are now on the case...

      Or, given that they spent $18,000,000 (or would it be 18,000,000 British Pounds?), perhaps that's the unit that was on the case from the beginning...

  • maths seem off (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:44PM (#50714611) Journal

    It is estimated the cost of deploying the officers outside the Embassy in London all day for the past three years has cost the British taxpayer more than $18m.

    So dollars, then? Six million a year for 24 hour surveillance. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    $684.93 per hour. Thank you Wolfram Alpha. [wolframalpha.com] This has the smell of one of those 1000 kilo drug busts that calculates the value of the seizure by multiplying by the gram price.

    • by dheltzel ( 558802 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:52PM (#50714667)
      I hear they eat a lot of donuts while on guard duty.
      • Right. Donuts, hookers, and cocaine.

        To stay awake, of course.

        Was there not a single employee at the Ecuadorian embassy willing to leave a door unlocked for less than 18 million?

    • Re:maths seem off (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:59PM (#50714705)

      This is small potatoes. That government spent $15 BILLIONS on a patient records system for the national health services before giving up. That's 7x more than the wonderful healthcare.gov website (which at least is "working").

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Add in the teams for real time facial recognition, license plate readers and other technical surveillance (internet, wifi, cell, sat) of the site or anyone walking near the site.
      Expert support 24/7 with its overtime is expensive beyond just officers outside.
      • Add in the teams for real time facial recognition, license plate readers and other technical surveillance (internet, wifi, cell, sat) of the site or anyone walking near the site. Expert support 24/7 with its overtime is expensive beyond just officers outside.

        Quite. I suspect no expense was spared; no technology denied this Assange hunt.

        Interestingly, three of the four charges against him expired last month vis-a-vis stautes of limitations. If he remains on sovereign Ecuadorian ground until 2020, the last charge is reported to be null and void.

    • If you have ten people working on it, eight even, it sound quite reasonable.

      I charge around 70 pounds per hour ... and I guess in that scenario, if you want to calc total costs, you have to take into account cars, fuel, accountants, probably hotels, probably the rent of the building from which some guys do observations etc etc.

      So the math does not seem off at all to me.

      • There is a vast difference between what I would pay for a competent surveillance service and the tab a governmental organization would run up.

        Cheese and rice... 70 pounds an hour? Good for you! ($107 or €94)

    • considering the number of people deployed for this for around the clock surveillance, the support staff and equipment this actually sounds insanely cheap. I wonder if they have actually left off some of the costs to reduce the embarrassment.
    • Six million a year for 24 hour surveillance. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

      $684.93 per hour.

      A quick Google search indicates they had "at least four" officers at a time watching the embassy. Let's say 5, to accommodate the times when there are more. That works out to $137 per hour per officer. Their base salary is only part of that. There's overhead -- something I can imagine is quite steep for a police officer, given the extensive supporting infrastructure in the police department compared to other kinds of businesses. And perhaps there are also bonuses, overtime, etc., for these kinds of assignme

    • So I wasn't the only one wondering what makes UK policemen so expensive?

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @08:58PM (#50714699) Homepage Journal

    18 million for someone that was NEVER Charged?!

    Yup, no political motivation, move along citizen.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday October 12, 2015 @09:49PM (#50714927)
    OK the average British bobby earns about 45k a year. Lets have 18 of them, that gives us 6 policemen x 3 spots which should cover weekends and 3 shifts easily. 18 cops x 45k gives 810,000 a year. Ok let's round that up to 1 million pounds a year. Assange has been there 3 years now, so thats 3 million pounds. Now I realize there's plenty of other stuff to cover other than actual manpower, but I'm wondering where the other 15 million pounds is coming from.
    • average british bobby may directly earn 45k a year but the real actual cost with benefits, equipment etc is significantly more. 6 policeman x 3 spots is unlikely to cover such extensive surveillance. add at least another couple of people per shift and support, equipment etc. 18 million actually seems extraordinarily cheap. it is also in dollars not pounds, so about 12 million pounds.
  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @12:24AM (#50715489)

    I wonder how much this has to do with the frosty US/UK relations as of late? If you think about it this whole Get-Assange-At-Any-Costs thing is mostly for US benefit. The conventional wisdom is that if the UK gets him they immediately turn him over to the US authorities who want to lock him up and throw away the key.

    Personally, I think that many countries - not just the UK - are a bit pissed at the US for the middle east retreat and the resulting onslaught of refugees. Maybe I'm connecting too many dots here but this might be just a Fuck-You-Obama-Go-Get-Him-Yourself kind of thing, *Shrug*

  • Either that or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xenna ( 37238 )

    "He believes that once he is in Sweden, he will be extradited again to the US where he could face espionage charges"

    Hold on. That's what he says he believes. It's also quite possible that he believes he will be convicted for the sexual assault charges, but that he stands a better chance claiming that he's the victim of a conspiracy.

    Everybody loves a free speech martyr. Sexual predators are usually not so popular.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are no sexual assault charges. Assange is not formally charged with anything at all. He has repeatedly asked the Swedish authorities to come question him at the Equadorian embassy with regard to as-yet completely unjustified allegations from years ago. The Swedish authorities, against all reason and without explanation, have refused to come question him. Why do you think that might be? -PCP

  • My guess is that the Metropolitan Police is far from gone from the area; they simply got tired of being an overt tourist attraction. The Ecuadorian Embassy is right around the corner from Harrod's and also the hotel where we stayed as tourists last summer. I got the definite impression that the police on duty were photographed a lot...
  • So, in other words, you actually really honestly think it was at some point in the past? When would that have been?

    Fuck, when some of your MPs date rape some sluts it ain't even worth the quid to prosecute them even if you don't have to do a 24/7 siege on their premises.

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