The cost of policing the Ecuadorian embassy while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up inside has exceeded £5m, according to figures reported by the Huffington Post.
The Metropolitan Police has monitored the embassy in Knightsbridge, west London, every day and night for the past 20 months since Assange was granted asylum in his battle against extradition to Sweden.
The Australian activist has sought refuge at the embassy to stop him being extradited to Sweden to face sexual offence allegations. He believes that once he is in Sweden, he will be extradited again to the US where he could face espionage charges following the leaking of thousands of classified documents on his WikiLeaks website.
According to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Huffington Post, the total amount police have spent monitoring Assange outside the embassy June 2012 and the end of December 2013 is £5.3m, with police pay making up £4.4m of that figure.
An additional £900,000 has been spent on overtime for officers standing outside the building.
The cost of Assange's asylum is said to be costing taxpayers around £10,000 a day. If Assange stays in the embassy until 2022 - when the statute of limitations on his extradition request expires – the total cost of policing the building is estimated to cost £36.5m.
Assange will be immediately arrested if he steps foot outside the Ecuadorian embassy.
"It is in the interest of everyone involved in this process that the prosecutor reaches a conclusion to either file charges or dismiss the case, and it is obvious that Assange will not come to Sweden," Staffan Danielsson, from the country's Center Party, said.
Members of the London Assembly, an elected watchdog for the capital, have condemned the figure being spent on Assange.
Assembly member Jenny Jones said: "This is a terrible waste of money for Londoners and has been dragging on for far too long.
"The mayor should be on the phone to the Foreign Office asking them to resolve this situation and on the phone to the Home Office so that Londoners aren't paying for this expensive stakeout."
Assange is accused of one count of rape and one count of sexual assualt from two woman following a visit to Stokholm in 2010.