LONDON, United Kingdom – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is demanding an MRI scan on his shoulder in London, despite his efforts to evade justice. Mr Assange has been hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK capital since 2012, to avoid being extradited to Sweden on sex crime charges.
The foreign ministry of Ecuador requested Assange be given “safe passage” to a hospital to receive treatment. The request, which appears to have fallen on deaf ears, was made after his round-the-clock police monitoring was ended.
For the last three years the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has stood guard outside the embassy to prevent Assange leaving. Earlier this week the MPS told the BBC the operation had cost £12.6m so far and was "no longer proportionate". However, Police did confirm their ongoing intention to arrest Assange should he ever leave the embassy.
An MPS spokesman said "resources are finite" and there were "so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city".
He continued: "The Metropolitan Police Service has 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.”
Earlier today the Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino read out a letter from Assange's UK doctor who conducted a medical examination in August. The letter claimed he is in constant and severe pain, which the minister said was getting worse.
The letter stated: "He has been suffering with a constant pain to the right shoulder region for the past three months [since June 2015]. There is no history of acute injury to the area. I examined him and all movements of his shoulder (abduction, internal rotation and external rotation) are limited due to pain.
"I am unable to elicit the exact cause of his symptoms without the benefit of further diagnostic tests, [including] MRI."
As a result of diplomatic rules every Embassy in London is considered to be the sovereign territory of the country that owns it. As a result the Ecuadorian Embassy is legally Equador and the British Police cannot easily gain access without breaking a number of international treaties.
The problem Assange has faced in the last three years is that the Embassy is a very small flat, offering few facilities. Should he venture as far as the shared hallway of the block he will be arrested, this has prevented him moving from the Embassy to Equador itself.
Assange became a household name when he used the WikiLeaks website to publish confidential documents from the US State Department supplied by Chelsea Manning. These included the Afghan and Iraq war logs as well as hundreds of diplomatic cables.
The US has wanted him ever since to face charges under the Espionage Act, but he is also wanted in Sweden following a rape allegation. Despite the two countries both wanting Assange, the UK authorities have indicated it would deport him to Sweden first to face the sex crimes charges.
Assange's US lawyer Carey Shenkman told the Press Association: "By claiming that Mr Assange must give up his asylum in order to receive medical treatment, the UK government is forcing him to choose between the human right to asylum and the human right to medical treatment.
"No one should ever have to face that choice. Sweden and the United Kingdom have the responsibility to ensure that Assange's basic rights are respected. They should agree without further delay to permit Mr Assange's safe passage to a hospital on humanitarian grounds."
The farce of having Assange in the Equadorian Embassy is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.