But British police conceded it cannot arrest him as long as he is inside the embassy.
Police said that he had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and “is now subject to arrest.” Police officers were stationed outside the Edwardian apartment block in the tony Knightsbridge district that houses the embassy, along with a small group of pro-Assange protesters waving “Free Assange” placards, AP reported.
Officials at the embassy declined to give an update on the situation Wednesday. Assange supporter Gavin Macfadyen, of the Center for Investigative Journalism at London’s City University, emerged from the embassy to say Assange was meeting with his lawyers and was “in very good humour.”
The Foreign Office said as long as Assange remains inside, he is “beyond the reach of police.”
“We will seek to work with the Ecuadorean authorities to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.
Ecuador said Assange would “remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean government” while authorities in the capital, Quito, considered his case.
Senior British lawyer Alex Carlile said Assange’s asylum bid smacked of desperation, and would likely fail.
“This is actually in law a very simple situation,” he said. “Once the Ecuadorians have considered and rejected his application for asylum — as they will — he will be going to Sweden.”
Some legal experts said they were mystified by the reasoning behind Assange’s dramatic asylum bid. But human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, a former member of Assange’s legal team, said he could be planning to bargain with Sweden for assurances that he would not be handed over to the U.S.
She said if granted such assurances, Assange might be willing to go to Sweden voluntarily.