Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Jan 13, 2018, 06:51
Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the nation's embassy in London for more than five years.

The charges against Assange have been dropped by Swedish prosecutors due to the impossibility of serving him notice, but the Metropolitan Police, which spent millions of pounds maintaining watch over the embassy, said he still faced a charge of failing to surrender to a court.

The investigation was later dropped, but Assange had refused to leave the country.

Assange, who denies the allegations, feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in U.S. history.

"The government of recently requested diplomatic status for here in the U.K.", a spokesman for the the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Wednesday evening, us reported.

USA officials told the Times Wednesday that arresting Assange remains a priority, though did not confirm whether the government would request his extradition should he be arrested in the UK.

Espinosa informed that Assange, an Australian, became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12.

Assange has managed to wear out his welcome over the years, alienating many of his previous supporters, including Edward Snowden, the former USA intelligence contractor who leaked documents about surveillance programs. Ecuador officials hoped it would allow for Assange to leave the embassy - and Britain - without arrest.

Assange was formally "naturalized" on December 12m 2017.

Ecuador had previously asked Britain to give Assange diplomatic status, but that was rejected. He was succeeded by Lenín Moreno, who although an ally of Correa's has demonstrated little enthusiasm for Assange's cause.

"Ecuador is now exploring other solutions in dialogue with the United Kingdom, like good offices of renowned authorities, other states, or worldwide organisations that could facilitate a just, final and dignified solution for all parties", Espinosa told a press conference in Quito. The new president also engaged in a public spat with Assange over the WikiLeaks founder's vocal support for Catalan separatists in Spain. "We are a country that defends human rights and additionally, a country that respects worldwide law".

Moreno "is more pragmatic" and "wants to have good relations with the USA and Europe", Crespo added, "and Assange really has no utility for him".

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