Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Assange

 

Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Assange

Quito - Assange became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12.

By AFP

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Published: Fri 12 Jan 2018, 8:17 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Jan 2018, 10:20 PM

Ecuador said on Thursday it had granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an unsuccessful attempt to provide him with diplomatic immunity and usher him out of its London embassy without the threat of arrest by Britain.
Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the 46-year-old Australian, who has been holed up at the embassy for five years to avoid arrest, became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12.
She told a Press conference in Quito that Ecuador had asked London to recognise Assange as a diplomat - which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest - but Britain had refused.
"The Ecuadoran government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate... his inclusion in the host state," Espinosa told reporters.
She said the request to Britain to accept diplomatic status for Assange was made on December 20, and denied a day later.
The foreign minister said Quito would not press the issue because of the "good relations we have with the United Kingdom".
The British foreign ministry said in a statement that Ecuador had "recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter."
"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice," the British government added in its statement.
Ecuador's attempt to obtain diplomatic status for Assange comes as part of the country's broader efforts to resolve the case of their long-term lodger, who moved into the embassy in 2012 to avoid arrest over a Swedish probe into rape allegations.
 



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