Quito: Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London for more than five years.
The nation’s foreign minister announced on Thursday that officials had decided to permit Assange’s naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation. Foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told a press conference that Assange became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12.
As a result, she said Ecuador had asked London to recognise Assange as a diplomat, which would give him immunity from arrest. Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims.
Sweden dropped the case, though Assange has remained in the embassy because he is still subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail. Earlier, Britain’s Foreign Office said on Thursday it had rejected Ecuador’s request to grant diplomatic status to Assange, who was born in Australia.