For Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, this week marked three years of life in the confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault, and where he has remained since.
On Friday, the Daily Telegraph, a conservative newspaper, quoted a British police source claiming that the costs to patrol and monitor the embassy have run beyond £11.1 million ($17.6 million).
More than 50 percent of that figure accounts for expenses police would normally incur in the line of duty, but it also factors in additional expenses, including overtime pay.
The statute of limitations on some of the alleged charges runs out in August, so Swedish prosecutors reluctantly made the decision earlier this year to attempt to interview Assange in the embassy. A planned appointment was canceled this week after Swedish officials claimed that they had yet to receive the necessary formal permissions from Ecuador.
Meanwhile, Assange has remained busy with his whistle-blowing organization, and presided Friday over the initial publication of a tranche of leaked Saudi documents.
"The Saudi Cables lift the lid on a increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbors and itself," said Assange in a statement on the Wikileaks Web site.
Ecuadorean officials have so far shown no sign of losing patience with their guest. In a recent interview, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said, "Assange can spend the rest of his life in our embassy in London."
Correa, an outspoken politico, urged British authorities to give him immunity -- presumably from Swedish (and American) investigators -- and wondered aloud what would happen if the situation was reversed, and a supposed political fugitive was holed up in a diplomatic mission in Latin America.
“If we had a European refugee in a European embassy in Quito, if we were to keep him three years without letting him stay, we would be called dictators, fascists," Correa said. "We would be brought in front of the International Criminal Court.”