Ecuador grants WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange citizenship

Pauline Gross
January 12, 2018

Earlier, Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest and extradition to the U.S., was denied diplomatic status by the United Kingdom government.

Ecudaor on Thursday announced that it has granted citizenship to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks who has been holed up in the country's embassy in London for the past five and a half years, The Guardian reported.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador's foreign minister, told reporters on Thursday that the South American country accepted Assange's application for naturalisation in December. Assange said he fears that Sweden would extradite him to the United States.

Assange has been living in the building in Knightsbridge, London since he was granted asylum there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

According to WaPo, Ecuador's government has confirmed that Assange will remain in the embassy until there is a guarantee that he will be secure in leaving.

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"Of course whatever alternative (taken) will be made strictly following to the norms and procedures of worldwide law, in coordination with the United Kingdom, a country which we maintain the best relations of friendship and cooperation", Ms Espinosa said.

At the same time Assange appeared on his Twitter account for the first time wearing an Ecuadorian national football shirt.

Espinosa said Ecuador is trying to make Assange a member of its diplomatic team, which would grant him additional rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, including special legal immunity and safe passage.

In October 2016 the embassy cut off his internet service after emails from the then-US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign were published on WikiLeaks. Ecuador's said it wants an end to Assange's epic couch-surfing effort. That was a temporary restriction, but it boiled over into conspiracy theories about a raid against the embassy and Assange's potential demise. She mentioned "dialogue with the United Kingdom" and mediation by other states or global organizations that could "facilitate a just, lasting, and dignified resolution for all the involved parties".

Other reports by GizPress

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