Julian Assange granted Ecuadorian citizenship


The Foreign Office has turned down a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, diplomatic status as a means of breaking the stalemate over his continued presence in the UK.

According to Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador's foreign minister, Assange's application for naturalisation was accepted last month.

She also said she feared threats to Mr Assange's life coming from third party states.

Assange, 46, has previously expressed concern that if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London he could end up being extradited to the USA, where he fears facing the death penalty over allegations of revealing government secrets through WikiLeaks. The Government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve the situation is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.

If awarded the status of a diplomat, it is thought, Assange could obtain certain rights to legal immunity and might be able to leave the embassy in Knightsbridge, and eventually the United Kingdom, without being arrested for breaching his former bail conditions.

On Wednesday, Assange hinted that something was afoot when he tweeted a picture of himself wearing a yellow Ecuadorean soccer jersey.

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.

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It is also alleged that Ecuador is trying to make Assange a member of its diplomatic team which would allow him legal immunity and safe passage through the UK.

The Ecuadorean government has confirmed that Julian Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship on 12 December.

She did not give details on how granting Assange citizenship might help him leave the embassy and avoid arrest. In 2016, a United Nations panel concluded that Assange had been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free.

Correa left office in May after a decade as president.

The original case against him has been dropped, but Assange remains inside the embassy.

On Thursday, Espinosa said Ecuador was exploring a variety of possible resolutions to the dispute.

In a separate statement, the ministry said Assange had "committed to not intervening in affairs outside the scope of his asylum status", which seemed an oblique reference to his penchant for creating a stir.