Julian Assange granted Ecuadorian citizenship after 5 years in embassy

Julian Assange granted Ecuadorian citizenship after 5 years in embassy

Julian Assange granted Ecuadorian citizenship after 5 years in embassy

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy located in Knightsbridge, central London for almost six years after claiming diplomatic asylum in June 2012 after being wanted by Swedish prosecutors for questioning over various alleged sexual offences.

The British Foreign Office said on Thursday that it rejected Ecuador's request to grant Assange diplomatic status in the UK.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister María Espinosa made the announcement that the 46-year-old Australian's naturalization had been accepted, adding that her country was still looking for "alternatives to resolve this case we have inherited".

At her news conference Thursday in Quito, Espinosa lamented that Ecuador's latest attempts to resolve the stalemate in a way acceptable to Britain were leaked prematurely.

Britain saw only one resolution to the diplomatic standoff. Concerns have been raised over whether Assange could soon be forced out of the embassy, as Ecuador reportedly looks to end the "unsustainable" standoff with the United Kingdom authorities.

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. Even Swedish prosecutors, who have dropped charges for the time being, said that if Assange leaves the embassy they'd like to talk with him about the sexual assault charges.

Assange, who denies the allegations, believes 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 USA history.

In a briefing Tuesday, Espinosa said Ecuador will continue to pursue a dialogue with the United Kingdom to eventually remove Assange from the embassy.

He was also a point of contention in Ecuador's 2017 presidential election.

Assange has been in the embassy of the South American country in London's Knightsbridge locality since 2012.

For some, Assange is a cyber hero for exposing government abuses of power and championing free speech but to others he is a criminal who has undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.

Assange, who has received numerous visitors to his modest quarters in the embassy, ranging from Nigel Farage to Lady Gaga, has described the period since his initial arrest as a "terrible injustice". He said the United States would "not discuss" whether it wanted to arrest Assange.

But a year ago, the Australian, 46, angered Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno by tweeting support for Catalan separatists.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that arresting Assange is a priority.

Related news