Ecuador grants WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange citizenship

nsnbc : Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange Ecuadorian citizenship, said the country’s foreign ministry on Thursday. Assange has been living in asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London for five years.

Julian Assange_WikiLeaks_London_UKThe move widely seen as another implied call on the United Kingdom aimed to allow Assange to leave the embassy without facing arrest by British police, and another attempt to draw international attention to the situation. However, London has denied Ecuador’s request to grant Assange diplomatic status, which would give him safe passage out of the embassy.

‘Ecuador is currently exploring other solutions in dialogue with the UK,’ Ecuador’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, told reporters Thursday. ‘There are well-founded fears we have about possible risks to his life and integrity, not necessarily by the UK but by third party states,’ she added.

Assange has been living at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 under virtual house arrest to avoid being detained in connection with a Swedish rape investigation, which began seven years ago.

Though Sweden dropped the case against him, the Australian-born former journalist and computer programmer remained at the Ecuadorean embassy. British police have said they will arrest him on a charge of jumping bail if he tries to leave.

Being arrested for jumping bail, however, would not be particularly troubling was it not for the fact that he also faces a possible sealed U.S. indictment against him. The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating Assange since at least 2010, when WikiLeaks published thousands of stolen U.S. security files, including some files that revealed possible war crimes.

CH/L – nsnbc 12.01.2018

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