Picture shows officer holding document with instructions to arrest WikiLeaks founder whether he leaves in diplomatic car or bag
Plans to seize Julian Assange “under all circumstances” the moment he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London have accidentally been revealed by a police officer displaying restricted documents outside the embassy.
The document, pictured under the officer’s arm by a Press Association photographer, appears to advocate arresting the WikiLeaks founder whether he leaves the building in a diplomatic bag or in a diplomatic car.
The handwritten plan was recorded at a police briefing and only partially covered by the officer’s arm as he arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge on Friday.
The brief begins: “BRIEF – EQ. Embassy brief – Summary of current position Re Assange. Action required – Assange to be arrested under all circumstances.” It then makes reference to a “dip bag” and a “dip vehicle”.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The document is one officer’s notes from a briefing. Our objective is to arrest Julian Assange for breach of bail. Under no circumstances would any arrest be made which was in breach of diplomatic immunity.”
Assange, who has been in the building for two months, is wanted for questioning in Sweden over claims of sexual assault.
He is refusing to travel to Scandinavia amid fears he will be extradited to the United States over his controversial website. Ecuador granted the Australian political asylum last week.
The UK government has made it clear Assange, who denies the allegations, will be arrested if he steps outside the embassy after jumping bail.
Speculation has been rife about possible escape routes, and Assange’s legal team and the Ecuadorean government have talked about the possibility of safe passage to Ecuador.
Ambassadors from several South American countries went to the embassy on Friday to show their solidarity with Ecuador.
The British government has threatened, under a 1987 Act, to enter the embassy and arrest the 41-year-old, but foreign secretary William Hague has said there is no intention to “storm” the building.
Ecuador’s president has said the diplomatic row “could be ended tomorrow” if Britain gave the activist safe passage to South America.