Julian Assange: Leaked documents reveal Ecuadorian Embassy's 'disguise' escape plan

The documents, which have not been verified by the embassy, appear to show diplomats considering how to move the WikiLeaks founder

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 01 September 2015 21:19
Julian Assange has been living in the embassy for more than three years
Julian Assange has been living in the embassy for more than three years

Ecuadorian officials considered smuggling Julian Assange out of their London embassy inside a bag, wearing a disguise and hidden in a diplomatic car, it has emerged.

Documents reportedly leaked from the embassy in Knightsbridge, where he still resides, appear to reveal a list of escape plans drawn up for the WikiLeaks founder in 2012.

Slides from a PowerPoint presentation outlined “possible escape scenarios for Assange”, including using diplomatic immunity, a car, disguise and putting him in a bag.

The Metropolitan Police maintain a constant presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Codenamed Operation Hotel, the report lays out how Ecuador considered ways of getting “Mr Guest”, as Assange was referred to, out of their embassy.

The document suggested Ecuador could appoint the Australian as its official representative to the United Nations, allowing him to reach safety in Ecuador under diplomatic immunity before the UN General Assembly could revoke the appointment.

Another idea said Assange could leave in an unspecified “disguise” to reach a nearby rooftop helipad or merely “get lost in the crowds at Harrods”.

A proposal to conceal him in a diplomatic car leaving the embassy was quickly dismissed because of surveillance by the Metropolitan Police, which allegedly then involved 50 men covering 24 hours a day and two vans.

Because the Ecuadorian Embassy shares its building, Scotland Yard had been able to station officers inside in hallways, on stairs, by lifts and blocking all routes that could get Assange to a car, the document claimed.

Julian Assange, who denies all the charges, has been wanted in Sweden since the allegations were made against him in August 2010

The last proposal cited an unusual case dating back to 1984 to suggest that Assange could simply be put in a special “diplomatic bag”, where he could leave with British authorities powerless to open it.

But the author noted that regulations said immunity only applied to sacks that “contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use” – not to mention the fact that police would be monitoring it with heat-seeking cameras.

The documents, seen by BuzzFeed News and initially reported on by journalist Fernando Villavicencio, have been posted online by the WikiLeaks Forum.

Members of the media outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Tuesday, where Julian Assange gave a press conference

The Ecuadorian Embassy has not responded to The Independent's requests for comment and a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the force would not discuss the leak “for operational reasons”.

Assange has lived in a small flat at the embassy for more than three years in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault, some of which have now been dropped. He denies all allegations.

He also feared potential prosecution in the US over his publication of leaked documents from soldier Chelsea Manning, including classified material from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that sparked international outrage in 2010.

In an interview with The Times Magazine on Sunday, he revealed that he had not had access to fresh air or sunlight since 2012 and that he avoided even his balcony because of “security issues”.

“There have been bomb threats and assassination threats from various people," Assange said.

The fugitive is thought to have cost the UK taxpayer £10 million in police expenses during his stay and a Foreign Office minister accused the embassy of an "abuse of diplomatic relations" for harbouring Assange last month.

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