Newstalk
Newstalk

17.24 11 Jan 2018


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Ecuador has confirmed it has granted nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The country's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa confirmed Assange was "naturalised" as an Ecuadorean on 12 December at his request.

It comes after Britain's Foreign Office said on Thursday that it had rejected Ecuador's request to grant diplomatic status to Assange, which would give him immunity from arrest.

The Foreign Office spokesman said: "The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Assange here in the UK.

"The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter.

"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice."

Ms Espinosa said they had granted the naturalisation while they look for ways to resolve his situation and were seeking a "dignified" solution to his situation with Britain.

She confirmed Assange's citizenship request at a press conference in Quito, saying she feared for threats to his life coming from third party states.

Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in its London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face a rape allegation, which he denies.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape investigation in May last year, but Assange still faces arrest by British police on a charge of skipping bail if he leaves.

Australian-born Assange also fears he would eventually be extradited to the US and prosecuted over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of secret US military documents and cables in 2010.

For some, Assange is a cyber hero who exposed government abuses of power and championed free speech.

However, others see him as a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.


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