Ecuador gives #Assange citizenship, seeks solution with Britain

World       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

World by Mahmood Idrees | Published

Earlier this week Britain rejected Ecuador's request to give Mr Assange diplomatic status, which would have given him extra protections including special legal immunity and safe passage.

Julian Assange's lack of cleanliness was reportedly one of the reasons behind Ecuador's recent attempts to extricate him from his five-year standoff in its United Kingdom embassy.

Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuador's Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday.

She also said she feared threats to Mr Assange's life coming from third party states. "Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice". "No solution can be reached without global cooperation and without cooperation from the United Kingdom, which in addition has shown interest in finding a solution". Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, took up residence in the embassy to dodge Swedish extradition over a rape accusation, though he has also expressed worry that the USA may request extradition over WikiLeaks' leaking of classified government documents.

On Wednesday, local media reported the Australian-born Assange was now a naturalized Ecuadorean, but the news was not officially confirmed until now.

Swedish prosecutors dropped their probe into the allegations but British police said Assange would be arrested for breaching bail conditions should he leave the building.

At the same time Assange appeared on his Twitter account for the first time wearing an Ecuadorian national football shirt.

The biggest crisis came in October 2016, when the embassy cut his Internet service after WikiLeaks published a trove of emails from then-U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign. In a big step toward resolving this issue, Ecuador's government has made a decision to grant Assange citizenship. In 2016, a United Nations panel concluded that Assange had been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free. He was succeeded by Lenín Moreno, who although an ally of Correa's has demonstrated little enthusiasm for Assange's cause.

On Thursday, Espinosa said Ecuador was exploring a variety of possible resolutions to the dispute.

She said that Ecuador had "the best relations of friendship and cooperation" with Britain.

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