Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy to the United Kingdom in London for more than 5 years, believing that if he were taken into custody by the UK police, he would face extradition to the USA where he would be tried for publishing details of war crimes committed by the US military.
Assange has feuded sporadically with his Ecuadoran hosts over the past few years, and both parties have repeatedly expressed their desire that Assange could leave the embassy. The UN has recognized that the UK government has subjected Assange to unlawful detention by not allowing him to go free.
Assange fled to the Ecuadoran embassy to avoid an order to go to Sweden to be questioned in connection with sexual assault allegations. Both he and the government of Ecuador repeatedly offered to make him available for questioning in the embassy, but the Swedish prosecutors refused this offer and eventually ran out the statute of limitations for the crimes that Assange was accused of.
After granting citizenship to Assange, Ecuador asked the UK to extend diplomatic immunity to him. The UK refused, stranding Assange with an extra passport but no path to freedom.
Britain's Foreign Office said Thursday it had rejected Ecuador's request to grant diplomatic status to Assange, who was born in Australia.
"The granting of Ecuadorean nationality does not in any way change Julian Assange's legal status in the U.K.," a government spokesman said. "The Government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve the situation is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice. Nobody should pretend that granting him Ecuadorean citizenship is a route to solving this longstanding issue."
Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange [CBS]
(Image: Snapperjack, CC-BY-SA)
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