Ecuador grants citizenship to Julian Assange


The British Foreign Office rejected an Ecuadorian government request to grant the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange diplomatic status in a bid to bring to an end his forced stay in the South American country's London embassy.

The nation's foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had made a decision to permit Assange's naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.

The anti-secrecy group's chief has been based at the Ecuador embassy in central London since 2012 after he lost appeals against sexual assault charges in Sweden.

Swedish prosecutors have since dropped their investigation into the allegations but Assange still faces arrest by Scotland Yard for breaching bail conditions if he steps outside the embassy.

Country's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the government has chose to award him the citizenship to ease his situation.

"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.

"There are well-founded fears we have about possible risks to his life and integrity, not necessarily by the United Kingdom but by third party states".

This follows recent reports that suggested Assange was going to be evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after pushing President Lenin Moreno "over the edge".

Mohinderpal Sethi, a barrister at Littleton Chambers, told the BBC that giving Julian Assange a passport would not necessarily lead to him getting diplomatic immunity, although Ecuador could possibly take some measures to protect him if this was the case.

Though protected by Ecuador, the relationship between Assange and nation's leaders has at times been dicey.

Assange is committed to not "intervening in issues non-related with his asylum condition", as requested by Ecuadorian government, the statement continued. Assange later taunted after Lasso's loss that he would "cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days".

Per the outlet, Assange was given the passport on December 21, 2017. He has also called Assange a hacker.