Ecuador has expressed concern about the “inadequate” response from the British authorities to an incident involving a man scaling a wall at its embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living for more than four years.
The intruder was spotted in the early hours of yesterday at the side of the building, which includes a window, and fled after being caught by the embassy’s security staff.
It was two hours before anyone from the British authorities arrived, said the embassy.
An official statement said: “The embassy has made available to the UK diplomatic police the evidence in its possession to help clarify this serious incident.
19 mins ago at 2:47am an unknown man scaled the side wall+window of the Ecuadorian embassy in London; fled after being caught by security.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 22, 2016
“According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), the host country has the special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of any diplomatic mission against any form of intrusion or harm.
“In this case, the security of the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK is the responsibility of the British authorities.
“The Ecuadorian government therefore expresses its concern about the inadequate response by the British authorities, who only arrived at the embassy more than two hours after the incident took place.
“The government of Ecuador regrets that, despite the enormous resources that the British Government has undertaken to prevent Julian Assange leaving the Ecuadorian embassy, the authorities did not respond more quickly to this extremely serious attempt an unauthorised entry.
“The government of Ecuador expresses its willingness to cooperate with the security forces in the UK to prevent future incidents and renews its commitment to protect Julian Assange.”
Scotland Yard called off its multimillion-pound 24-hour surveillance of the embassy last October, saying the operation was “no longer proportionate”, but said it would deploy a number of “overt and covert tactics” to arrest Mr Assange.
Cameras have been installed around the building.
Metropolitan Police officers had maintained a constant watch of the embassy in Knightsbridge, at a cost of more than £11m.
Mr Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over a sex allegation, which he has always denied.
He points out that the UK government has refused to guarantee that he will not be extradited to the United States to be quizzed over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy.
Mr Assange, who has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, has offered to be questioned inside the embassy but the Swedish prosecutors only recently agreed.
The Ecuadorian attorney general said earlier this month that a date would be set in the coming weeks for the proceedings to be held.