Scotland Yard have quit sending cops to monitor Julian Assange around the clock – at least in person, anyway.
The WikiLeaker-in-Chief has been holed up in London's Ecuadorian Embassy since the summer of 2012, where he sought political asylum from authorities who wanted to question him over rape, coercion and two counts of sexual molestation accusations.
At lunchtime today, the Metropolitan Police said they were scaling back their 24/7 manpower.
Scotland Yard said in a statement:
Whilst the MPS remains committed to executing the arrest warrant and presenting Julian Assange before the court, it is only right that the policing operation to achieve this is continually reviewed against the diplomatic and legal efforts to resolve the situation.
As a result of this continual review the MPS has today Monday, 12 October withdrawn the physical presence of officers from outside the Embassy.
The operation to arrest Julian Assange does however continue and should he leave the Embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him. However it is no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence.
The Met declined to be drawn on how they would continue to watch over Assange, other than to say that they would "deploy a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him" should he leave the embassy.
The move comes just weeks after Swedish officials confirmed that they would no longer be seeking answers from Assange over allegations of sexual molestation and coercion.
As The Register previously reported, a more serious allegation of rape against 44-year-old Assange remains in place for another five years.
Despite that, the Met – which wants to arrest the Australian computer hacker for breaching his bail conditions – have now reeled back their "physical" surveillance operation.
Scotland Yard added that they had made the decision "to balance the interests of justice in this case with the ongoing risks to the safety of Londoners and all those we protect, investigating crime and arresting offenders wanted for serious offences, in deciding what a proportionate response is."
It would seem that the Assange circus has finally left town. ®