Ecuador grants citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Britain denies request to issue diplomatic status

Ecuador's foreign minister has said that the country has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

File image of Julian Assange. Reuters

File image of Julian Assange. Reuters.

This comes immediately after Britain denied a request by Ecuador to issue diplomatic status to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in the country's London embassy since 2012 on 11 January.

"The government of Ecuador 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," the British foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ecuador's attempt to obtain diplomatic status for the 46-year-old comes as part of the country's broader efforts to resolve the case of their long-term lodger, who moved into the embassy to avoid arrest over a Swedish probe into rape allegations.

Sweden dropped their investigation over the 2010 allegations last year, but British police have said they are still seeking to arrest him for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms.

"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice," Britain's foreign ministry said on 11 January.

Assange has refused to step outside the embassy and claimed he fears being extradited to the United States, for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Ecuadorian foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said on 9 January that her government is looking at the possibility of a "third country or a personality" stepping in to resolve the stand-off.

"No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out," Espinosa told foreign correspondents in Quito.

On 10 January the Ecuadorian foreign ministry had refused to comment on media reports that Assange, an Australian national, had been granted citizenship by the South American country.

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Jan 12, 2018 07:02 AM