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undergroundnewsroom.com January 23, 2018


Assange, now Ecuadoran citizen, still can't leave embassy

12 January 2018, 03:22 | Damon Campbell

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Britain

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Britain

At a press conference on Thursday in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, the foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, explained that Assange had sought citizenship and that it had been granted on 12 December past year.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Assange's name appeared in Ecuador's Civil Registry, a database including only Ecuadorian citizens.

Britain's Foreign Office has rejected a request (Guardian) from the Ecuadorian government to grant diplomatic status to Julian Assange, a possible attempt to break the stalemate over the WikiLeaks founder who has been living in the nation's London embassy for more than five years.

She called the measure "one more ring of protection" for Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 in an effort to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant on rape allegations - a charge he has always denied. If the situation is indeed untenable, Assange could finally leave the embassy.

Espinosa said that in December, the Ecuadorian government requested diplomatic status for Assange, pointing out that his Ecuadorian naturalization reinforces his status as "protected".

Ecuador's Foreign Ministry in a statement said it was seeking to resolve Assange's situation, without making reference to the citizenship issue.

While Swedish officials dropped their investigation into a rape claim involving Assange, the United Kingdom has repeatedly said that he would be arrested by police for breaking a prior bail condition should he step outside the embassy.

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Julian Assange, at the request of the Government of Ecuador, undertook not to intervene in matters unrelated to his asylum status. He remains over fears he will be extradited to the United States and put on trial for WikiLeaks publishing leaked secret USA military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010. "The UK should not permit itself to be intimidated by the Trump administration's public threats to "take down" Mr Assange".

The newspaper said Assange may also have been given a passport.

A British judge approved his extradition to Sweden in 2011, and after unsuccessful appeals, he applied for political asylum with Ecuador in June 2012 and moved into the embassy.

Mr Assange then chose Ecuador as his best option to seek asylum when he lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden.

A cat wearing a striped tie and white collar looks out of the window of the Embassy of Ecuador on November 14, 2016 in London, England. According to London's Metropolitan Police, he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy building.

The original case against him has been dropped, but Assange remains inside the embassy.



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