It's now been three years since Julian Assange slipped into the Ecuadorian embassy claiming political asylum, and now the president of the Ecuador has said he's welcome to stay for the rest of his life if need be.
Ecuador's president Rafael Correa said Assange hadn't overstayed his welcome, but that the situation could easily be resolved if Assange was granted immunity. Correa was scathing about the police guard that is keeping Assange inside the London embassy's grounds.
"If we had a European refugee in a European embassy in Quito, if we were to keep him three years without letting him stay, we would be called dictators, fascists," Correa told Euronews. "We would be brought in front of the International Criminal Court."
While knowing that he's welcome in the Ecuadorean embassy permanently might be a comfort for the Australian WikiLeaker, it's not exactly a prospect he's going to welcome. Assange, currently hiding out to avoid an investigation into sexual misconduct charges in Sweden, has spoken of his keenness to walk free – but it doesn't look as though that's going to be possible
Correa said Swedish authorities are welcome to question Assange in the embassy itself – something they have so far failed to do. Assange claimed earlier that the Swedes were due to visit him this week, but they backed out at the last minute.
In the meantime, Assange will likely pay several police officers' mortgages with the amount of overtime they're getting to watch the embassy around the clock. The Metropolitan Police told ITV that the cost of keeping him bottled up over the last three years was £11.1m ($17.6m).
The police said that broke down into £6.5m for paying police who would be otherwise engaged, another £2.7m on "additional costs," such as overtime pay, and a further £1.9m on indirect costs.
"The costs provided are an estimate based on averages, as actual salary and overtime costs will vary daily," a spokesman said. ®