Julian Assange is officially a citizen of Ecuador

World       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

World by Mahmood Idrees | Published

Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the country's London embassy for more than five years. She explained, "What naturalisation does is provide the asylum seeker another layer of protection".

Assange has been living in Ecuador's embassy in the affluent borough of Knightsbridge since 2012, initially to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape charges.

Swedish prosecutors a year ago unexpectedly dropped their investigation into allegations against him, which included a claim of rape. Though the original case that prompted his stay has since been dropped, Assange remains holed up in the embassy as he still faces arrest in Britain over skipping bail, according to the AP, though fears of a USA extradition are no doubt a big contributing factor.

"Earlier this week, Ecuador said the situation was unsustainable and requested diplomatic status for Assange in hopes of springing him", NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from London.

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"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice", said a British Foreign Office spokesman.

She also said she feared threats to Mr Assange's life coming from third party states. "The U.K. did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter". That was a temporary restriction, but it boiled over into conspiracy theories about a raid against the embassy and Assange's potential demise.

On Wednesday, Assange hinted that something was afoot when he tweeted a picture of himself wearing a yellow Ecuadorean soccer jersey. "These comments need not interfere with the dialogue we're having right now", an Ecuadorian official said through a translator, emphasising the fact that they can't speak too freely at the moment about next steps for Assange.

Reuters found an entry for "Julian Paul Assange" in Ecuador's Civil Registry, which only includes Ecuadorean citizens. "And we are very respectively looking with the United Kingdom to find mechanisms that lead to a solution", Espinosa added. In 2016, a United Nations panel concluded that Assange had been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free.

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