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back to article Ecuador: Let's talk about not having Julian Assange on our sofa

Blighty's Foreign Secretary William Hague is considering an invitation to sit down with his Ecuadorian counterpart - and discuss what to do about their little Julian Assange problem. The Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino - due to arrive in London this month - has asked the UK Foreign Office for a chat about Assange, who …

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Anonymous Coward

It took a while, but, as predicted ...

it's the Ecuadorans that are keen to get rid of Assange.

Shame Hague made such a total tit of himself to start with. He only had to wait.

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Re: It took a while, but, as predicted ...

Its diplomacy - the Foreign secretary says one thing to their ambassador in private, another thing to the media in private, another to the House of Commons. Meanwhile the British ambassador says something else to their PM or FM in private and yet another thing to their media. Meanwhile a whole bunch of other things are said in the cabinet.

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Re: It took a while, but, as predicted ...

I forgot to add and probably yet another thing while letting their spooks listen in the conversation. And yet more and different stuff to our allies.

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I imagine the Manning outcome will be largely dependant on what is agreed with Assange as regards his future...

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Anonymous Coward

Am I the only one thinking that JA could dye his hair brown and wear a false 'tache and he'd be able to leave?

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Joke

Alternative escape plan

Ask all the members of the embassy to dress in giant condoms and hide himself in the middle of them - oh wait a sec......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternative escape plan

No, his have a habit of tearing..

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These are a distraction...

The real story is that they have been spending the past year digging underneath the embassy into the next building... what they will do is surprise everyone with having him appear on a webcam from another country the second the talks start...

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He may end up 'serving' longer than his sentence would have been...

The Swedish prosecutor is waiting for JA. There is a valid European arrest warrant for JA. The UK Foreign Secretary might 'listen' to the Ecuadorian consulate, that is what diplomats do.

JA is going to Sweden, though. That isn't going to change. He can delay it, but that fact still looms before him. The Swedes are determined on that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He may end up 'serving' longer than his sentence would have been...

AFAIK, he needs to answer for breaking UK law first, but I may be wrong. Not sure what takes priority.

What I do know is that if he walks away from this one they better install revolving doors in embassies as everyone who has broken laws will want to try this. That is why I don't think he'll walk. Neither Sweden or the UK can afford that sort of flagrant ignoring of the law.

I also don't have a problem with him being shipped to the US. If the US really is stupid enough to turn this idiot into a martyr I think they deserve the problems that will no doubt cause. Ignoring him would be the wiser approach.

Worts case scenario for Assange is a sequence of immediate extradition to Sweden, followed by a 30 minute hearing after which he is released without charge, maybe with a fresh pack of extra small condoms. That would put the lie to the whole US paranoia, and reduce his further significance for the media to about zero. Hence the bleating - it's a very real possibility that this actually happens.

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Tell 'em to keep him

He's all theirs. Forever and ever, world without end, amen. Whatever's being spent keeping a bobby outside the embassy is less than what would be spent on the trial and then locking him up... and he's just as locked away, and he did it to himself.

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A lotta donuts

The MET spent £3 million in 7 months watching a building ? That's almost 14k per day. If an police officer earns £30,000 a year (£82 per day), they must have about 170 policemen on-site, right ?

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Happy

Re: A lotta donuts

Well, it's like the street value of drugs seized by police. The street value of a police officer is much higher than their cost if you get them wholesale...

Or, as you suggest, they could just be eating a lot of Doughnuts. Say there's a nearby Krispy Kreme outlet, then that £14k could buy them as many as 5 or 6 doughnuts per day...

I wonder if old Julian showers regularly while he's in there? Or is he whiffing up their embassy something awful? I know the Guardian guys who worked with him on the US diplomatic cables complained that they were stuck in small windowless rooms with him, and he he hadn't bothered to wash or change clothes in several days.

Maybe that's the answer. The police have all been equipped with gas masks, just in case...

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Re: A lotta donuts

@ Jim 59:

You're oversimplifying the maths. If an average rozzer on 30K per annum is scheduled to do an 8 hour shift then you need 3 of them to maintain a one-plod presence in a 24 hour period so we're down to 57 on-site assuming they all work 365 days a year. They don't, so let's say our single copper works a similar number of days a year to me, he's working for .62 of the year so multiplying our 57 by .38 means we're down to 21 on-site.

That's assuming the 3 million is only going on staff pay and not equipment costs and that night shifts don't pay more etc...

Bored? Moi?

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Re: A lotta donuts

You need to work on your math a little (£30k becomes £50k by the time you have paid for taxes, office space, pensions etc, and they only work 240 days per year in 8 hour shifts) but I still make that 13 officers on duty 24x7.

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Re: A lotta donuts

170 policemen on site per day, but they don't work 24 hour shifts so maybe about a third of that number at any one time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A lotta donuts

If the complaints of police officers are to be believed* then each officer spends one hour per day watching the embassy and seven hours writing a report about it.

*They aren't.

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FAIL

Re: A lotta donuts

"The Metropolitan Police has been forced to maintain a 24-hour watch on the building, which they said in February had cost Brits nearly £3m by that point."

And exactly who has forced them to spend that money ?

Choosing what resources to allocate is a discretionary process - in what way is this a priority with scarce resources , rioting in the streets and people getting hacked to death ?

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Re: A lotta donuts

True, it's more like 1 hour watching and 7 hours trying to submit the report via the govt procured iplod-app-pad. Assuming theirs functions as well as the one the poor community nurses have to suffer.

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Re: A lotta donuts

Google Maps says Krispy Kreme is about 20mins walk (probably a longer plod) away.

They're probably just going round the corner to Harrods, that alone explains the cost.

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Re: A lotta donuts

Whether its 170, 21, or 13 its still far too expensive! At most you are requiring 4 persons onsite (its a small building!) and one situational commander. 3x 8hr shifts +cover = 20 persons, at a generous 60k per plod and 100k per command person that's 16x60+4x100 = 1.3 million. No helicopters, No fast-pursuit cars.

I suspect that what we are seeing is also a bill for a certain amount of espionage/intelligence.

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Re: A lotta donuts

There's a Krispy Kreme in Harrods.

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Re: A lotta donuts

There's a Krispy Kreme in Harrods.

That must be the mathematical Holy Grail that is: Expensive squared. They probably do a special one that's diamond encrusted, and filled with the tears of orphans. For £20,000. Probably with a free orphan thrown in for refills.

I was very disappointed when Fayed sold Harrods. He said he was going to have himself mummified and be interred in a pyramid on the ceiling. I wonder why no-one ever checked his blood for drugs...

However, if he'd not sold, the combined weight of the 2 egomaniac paranoid nutjobs in such a small area would probably have distorted the space-time continuum and led to a tin-foil hole forming in the area...

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@ Sir Sham Cad

Take your point re shifts and holidays. But every copper working a third of 24 hours and 0.62 of a year still gives over 35 cops on site 24 x 7 x 365. (170*0.33*0.62)

Could it be that the nice policeman are getting some rather shift payments ? Assuming 5 cops on site 24x7x365 corresponds to 25 different full time bobbies including hols and shifts. Sharing 3 million, each one has trousered circa £120,000 in 7 months, back of a fag packet...

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Boffin

Re: @ Sir Sham Cad

Come on guys! When the boss asks you how much money you need for that new bit of kit that you finally have persuaded HIS boss is essential, what do you tell him?

(Don't forget the maintenance plan...)

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Facepalm

Re: @ Sir Sham Cad

You guys all seem to be forgetting that its not as simple maths as that. I earn X from my company per hour for doing the work, but my time is sold to the customer at 3X minimum, because you have to include backroom staff and equipment, the front line equipment (in this case, the fully stocked cop car for the plod to sit around in, the gun, night stick, radios, dashboard computer, etc.), and a host of other overheads.

I would imagine that the 3million figure comes from how much the forces that have been deployed for this could have earned if they were deployed for the same amount of time protecting a football game or the like.

So going by the base figure for salaries is just being silly...

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Re: A lotta donuts

You fail to take in to consideration that this "post" is not a normal assignment for the plods and therefore not in the staffing plan, so most if not all of these plod are on overtime. its not like they have a closet full of spare plods at the station where they can pull out of few extra for an assignment here or there and throw them back when they're done.

On a side note, this whole situation has an air of bullshit about it. The math just doesnt add up.

The math problem goes like this:

A: Sweden says they just want to talk to him about some allegations of (non-violent) sexual abuse. they haven't even charged him with a crime yet.

B: The US is saying heh we dont give a fuck about him, we have no interest in him what-so-ever, nothing to see here, move along. (which we all know is bullshit)

C: The (Cash strapped) UK is spending what works out to be £5.1m a year keeping a post of plods outside the embassy where JA is holed up 24/7/365.

In the equation, how the fuck does A + B justify C.

The allegations against him in Sweden, though somewhat serious in nature, definitely do not warrant a multi-million pound and years long operation to apprehend him, especially considering this bill is being footed by a third party who has no dog in this fight, and no interest in this situation outside of the fact that he's within their borders (I would have said he is on their soil, but he's actually on Ecuadorian soil).

All parties involved need to switch off the bullshit emitters and come clean. Sweden needs to just step out of the picture and the US to stop their bullshit and just unseal the indictment that we all know damn good and well has already been filed and is being kept sealed, outline the charges against him and issue an international warrant for his arrest.

This whole smoke and mirrors charade is disheartening and disgusting. The whole reason the US wont lay their cards on the table is because they plan to lay some seriously bullshit, trumped up and over-zealously harsh charges on him, similar to the "Aiding the Enemy" charges against Bradly Manning, and because most, if not all of the extradition treaties the US has in place with other nations have a dual criminality clause, and with the scope of charges they plan to bring, most other nations would refuse extradition based on the fact that the charges / punishment do not fit the crime (if there even was one on Julian Assange's or wikileaks part)

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Re: A lotta donuts

Wallyb132,

I think you need to take the tin-foil hat off there.

Firstly he wasn't accused of a totally non-violent crime. One of the allegations is that he tried to force himself on one of the women, who was saying no dice until you put on a condom. It wasn't full-on violence in that she says she was holding her legs together and he was using his bulk to stop her getting away and trying to get them apart. So there's no accusation that he was trying to hurt her physically, but that would still be rape. Just less aggravated than if he was using a knife, or smacking her round the head or something. Not some sort of 'weird sexual offence that only counts in Sweden' but proper rape. As was confirmed by the UK Supreme Court judgement, where they upheld that the European Arrest Warrant was legal, but also said that the case would have met the criteria for extradition anyway, even without the EAW system.

So that's the first bit of your post that doesn't add up. As for the rest of it, justice isn't convenient, but we have a system that's supposed to pretty much ignore the costs and just get on with criminal cases. We have a valid warrant for his arrest, and the police are duty bound to carry that out. As approved by our courts, in exhaustive process, where Assange got to put his case at 4 different levels of courts. He had his day in court, he lost, now he has to go to Sweden and have his day in court there. If it even gets to court. But I'm inclined to suspect his motives for avoiding facing justice in Sweden might be down to a guilty conscience, given the amount of time, effort and money he's gone to in order to avoid facing them. Admittedly most of that money has been other people's, but still...

As for the US charging him, we'll know more when the Manning trial is over. I don't think they'd be able to accuse him of much for publishing the leaked stuff. Only if they can prove he was controlling Manning and helping with the hacking, then they can go for espionage or conspiracy. But if he did do all that, then he is guilty of either conspiracy to hack or espionage. Even if you think what he did was in a good cause. Although with the way Manning was treated, I'd be amazed if half the evidence from the military tribunal would be admissible, which leads me to suspect that even if the US could get enough evidence to try him, they wouldn't be able to get enough untainted evidence to get a foreign court to extradite him.

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Anonymous Coward

...

Do days spent in the Ecuadorian embassy count towards his sentence?!

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Big Brother

Truth is irrelevant

Perhaps if Winston Smith had obtained and released a mass of secret and embarrassing documents, thus revealing the reality of Big Brother ... convenient charges could have been found to discredit Smith? From a cooperating ally?

Let the juggernaughts of self-perpetuating power rush headlong into history ... the populace will believe what it will.

The true mystery is the simple fact that the Ecuadorian embassy has not yet suffered a massive gas main fault.

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Just goes to show how much money the MET piss up the wall if they claim its cost 3 million, why do we even need to watch the building 24/7, they allowed Dale Cregan out on bail when he was arrested for murder which let him go off and kill 2 police officers yet we have to spend 3 million of tax payers money watching just in case Assange gets away?

At what point do the MET decide it no longer in the public interest to keep a 24/7 watch on the embassy or is this going to be costing us money indefinitely?

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Anonymous Coward

The American government has said it has no plans to charge Assange

rotfl, this is pretty sophisticated for the US diplomacy. Should it read "no plans, but we're going to"? "No plans as of the time this statement was issued"? "No plans, but a strong intention to"? "No plans for the gov, but we ain't say nothin' about the plans for the gov sponsored agencies"?

that said, he deserves to be extradited and put on that one-way trip to Mars for being such an megalomaniac and screwing up a decent wikileaks cause.

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Big Brother

Re: The American government has said it has no plans to charge Assange

"The American government has said it has no plans to charge Australian-born Assange nor has it made attempts to extradite him."

Complete and utter bullshit. If somebody nabs Assange outside the embassy, plans and attempts will be "devised and made" five minutes after the US hears about it.

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Childcatcher

Re: The American government has said it has no plans to charge Assange

To feed those who think less than wholesome thoughts about the various governments concerning this issue, please note that having someone shot on the spot (or disappeared or whatever horrible fate that might eventually be inflicted upon the hapless JA), requires neither that he be charged or extradited for this to come to pass.

On the other hand, letting the (alleged) victims have a go at him before taking action would be a good bit of diplomacy.

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Joke

Re: Shot on sight... blah, blah, blah

Why would they ever bother to do that? THINK about it. His ravings and antics have made WL into a side-show. JA's paranoia has done more damage to WL then anything the CIA/NSA/etc. could ever hope to!

Joke alert, which is what this whole farce is.

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Re: plans and attempts will be "devised and made" five minutes after the US hears about it.

I only wish there was at least one person somewhere in the bowels of our government who was that competent.

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His credibility is stretching pretty thin

So the UK has pretty much proven to be a "if you ask for him we'll send him over" country when it comes to Extradition requests from the USA, with a few minor exceptions that took years to sort out. Assange was in the UK at the time of the allegations from Sweden. Why on earth would the USA come up with a scheme to send him to a different country that, more than likely, has a different extradition agreement that is more difficult for them to extract Assange?

Whatever happens, he needs to answer the charges of alleged rape in Sweden. Whatever else he may have done, he is not above or outside the law, and he needs to learn that.

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I wasn't aware that WE had a Julain Assange problem...

Ecuador on the other hand....

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Re: I wasn't aware that WE had a Julain Assange problem...

Ecuador does have a Julian Assange problem, but we have a Julian Assange problem problem.

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Anonymous Coward

re. A lotta donuts

imo British gov decided they won't risk "worldwide humiliation" which they believe they would get, should this smelly man holed in the embassy give them the slip. They will throw any resources and money not to let him do it. Quite different to the case of that bloke who was let loose by the system, and killed when out there. That was just the "regular" system involved, and no politician gave a toss. Now they do, because they feel they'd be a laughing stock of the world, and they'll do anything, at any cost, to not let it happen. And "the system" will duly follow the orders.

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Trollface

I'm willing to bet…

That the US are laughing their ass off at all of it.

Seriously, it would be a significant problem for them to manage to extradite Assange; on the other hand, if he is willing to discredit himself on his own, what is there not to like?

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What are the betting markets like?

Can you still get 300:1 if he leaves the embassy grounds in the batmobile?

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As the Daily Mash reported last year, his attempt to leave hidden in a laundry basket failed when details were published on Wikileaks.

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Deear Meester Weeliam,

We too are sick of the little Ponce, he never does his share of the shopping, he wraps all our computers in tinfoil, please, please take him back before he has a nasty accident!

OK, we'll sweeten the deal with enough cash to pay off the Met's bills, plus a home-cooked meal using what's left in the fridge after you-know-who has helped himself...

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Anonymous Coward

One solution

albeit an old one, tried before, would be to ask the Nigerian embassy if they have any spare crates, and take JA to Ecuador?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dikko_Affair

(if giving their valued guest a diplomatic passport is too embarrassing that is - but if Ecuador wanted to avoid embarrassment, they shouldn't have granted the self-obsessed JA entry to the embassy in the first place, and should put him on the first plane to Sweden)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One solution

alternatively I suppose they could ask if any long-serving Bulgarian diplomats have any spare umbrellas

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Re: One solution

Ah, poor old Georgy Markhov. That was a terrible fate, and the parent state of the USSR continues to assassinate journalists and others of whom their leader Putin, grandson of Stalin's cook, disapproves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One solution

if giving their valued guest a diplomatic passport is too embarrassing that is

Sigh. Not going to repeat the diplomatic process details - you cannot give someone diplomatic status without permission of the host country.

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Alternatives??

Maybe the Foreign Secretary just wants to tell Ecuador something on the order: "We really don't care that you have him, but he stays there (in the embassy). Tell us when he goes outside."

It might cure lots of things. No need for police outside until things start to happen. Jail in any form works for me! I wouldn't want to be holed up in an embassy for over a year and keep going strong. Much less in a country like Ecuador!

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