One day after his name appeared in an Ecuadorian government database of citizen identification numbers, Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs María Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been afforded citizenship in Ecuador.
Speaking at a press briefing in Quito in which she confirmed Assange’s new nationality, Espinosa told reporters she had been seeking a “dignified and just” resolution to Assange’s asylum and warned his safety was at risk by “third party states.”
“The Ecuadorian government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate . . . his inclusion in the host state,” Espinoza told reporters.
According to Ecuadorian media, Assange reportedly received citizenship in the South American country on Dec. 12, 2017, was issued an Ecuadorian passport and his name now appears on Ecuadorian tax rolls.
Despite being awarded Ecuadorian citizenship, the application by Ecuador to establish diplomatic immunity for Assange was rejected by the UK Foreign Office. A statement from the Foreign Office denied London was in talks with Ecuador on diplomatic immunity.
The founder of whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks, Assange has been sought by Swedish authorities since 2010 for allegedly sexually assaulting two women. Living in London at the time, Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was granted asylum in August 2012.
Assange has remained in Ecuador’s London embassy since.
Although Swedish prosecutors ended their investigation into the alleged rapes and officially revoked the arrest warrant, officials warned Assange could be recharged if he entered Sweden before 2020.
Despite the Swedish government no longer pursuing Assange, the the United Kingdom has stated it would arrest Assange if he were to leave the embassy. Similarly, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions emphasized in 2017 Assange’s arrest is a “priority”, citing the sensitive nature of information WikiLeaks was releasing to the public.
[The Guardian] [Reuters] [El Universo] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via Daily Mail]