Ecuadorian officials reportedly considered smuggling Julian Assange out of their embassy in London by disguising him in fancy dress, in one of a number of potential plots to evade police stationed outside.
by Jamie Grierson at:
It was also suggested the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, who has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, could hop across the Kensington rooftops to a helipad, or become lost in the crowds in Harrods, according to documents seen by Ecuadorian news site Focus Ecuador and Buzzfeed UK.
Another option for getting Assange out was to appoint him Ecuador’s representative to the UN and hustle him out in an official car under the protection of diplomatic immunity.
A WikiLeaks representative declined to comment on the articles, while representatives for Assange and the Ecuadorian government have been approached for comment and the Guardian awaits a response.
Ecuador granted political asylum in 2012 to Assange, an Australian national, who faces extradition to Sweden over an investigation into allegations of rape and sexual assault. He has chosen to remain in the embassy since then.
According to Focus Ecuador, the Ecuadorian intelligence services, known as Senain, spied on Assange in the embassy and compiled a report based on updates from internal staff.
As well as the various escape plots, the documents detail alleged clashes between Assange and embassy security staff and concerns raised about his mental health.
In September 2012, three months after Assange first took up residency, it is said that a guard discovered him in the embassy’s off-limits secure control room, leading to a scuffle between the two men. The guard and Assange both gave conflicting accounts of what happened.
In January 2013, the security guard reported hearing a loud crash from Assange’s room and later discovered a large, smashed bookshelf. Images of the room’s condition are included within the report.
The documents also note incidents when Assange would “shout and talk incoherently” at night and attributes this to stress.
The documents acknowledge Assange’s situation and the “emotional imbalance” it may cause but says officials can not allow attacks against personnel or equipment to occur. “Counselling may be recommended,” the report adds.
Ecuadorian officials acknowledged the heavy Met police presence at the embassy when considering smuggling Assange out in a diplomatic car. It notes officers in the hall, on the stairs and at the exits of the lifts.
Sweden started talks with Ecuador this week to address the stalemate over Assange.
Two women made allegations against Assange five years ago in Stockholm, but no charges were brought because the prosecutor said she was unable to interrogate him.
Assange says he had no choice but to seek asylum as Sweden declined to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US to face espionage charges related to WikiLeaks if he travelled to Stockholm.