Wikileaks founder Assange's embassy policing costs cross $13 million

LONDON (AFP) - The cost of policing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London has passed £6 million (S$12.7 million), Scotland Yard said on Thursday, two years to the day since he sought refuge there.

The £6.4 million figure comes after Britain's Foreign Office urged Ecuador to bring Assange's "difficult and costly residence to an end".

Assange has been holed up at the embassy in London's prestigious Knightsbridge district to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.

He fears extradition would lead to him being sent on to the United States, where he could face trial over WikiLeaks' publication of classified US military and diplomatic documents.

Former US Army private Chelsea Manning - formerly Bradley Manning - was sentenced to 35 years in prison last year for passing 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The Foreign Office insists it remains "as committed as ever to reaching a diplomatic solution to this situation" but stresses Assange must be extradited to Sweden.

But Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said on Tuesday that Assange would have his country's protection for as long as he needs it.

"Assange will be as long as he wants under the protection of the Ecuadoran state and he can stay in the embassy all the time he needs," he said.

"The solution is in the hands of Europe, particularly UK and Sweden."

The policing price tag includes the cost of diverting officers from other duties, use of vehicles, equipment and other costs associated with a police operation.

Scotland Yard would not disclose how many police are involved in the operation "for security reasons".