March 23, 2018

Ecuador seeks mediator to resolve 'unsustainable' Assange ordeal

12 January 2018, 02:14 | Darnell Patrick

Julian Assange gets Ecuadorean passport

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum inside Ecuador's embassy in London for five years, was granted Ecuadorian citizenship, the country's foreign minister said Thursday.

Ecuador's attempt to obtain diplomatic status for Assange comes as part of the country's broader efforts to resolve the case of their long-term lodger, who moved into the embassy in 2012 to avoid arrest over a Swedish probe into rape allegations.

However Assange still faces arrest over breaching bail conditions, and fears extradition to the U.S. to face charges over his work with Wikileaks.

"The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr. Assange here in the UK".

He was wanted in Sweden for questioning over rape accusations.

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"A person can not live in those conditions forever", she added, reiterating that Ecuador will continue to provide the whistleblower with all necessary assistance. The daily reported that Assange also may have been issued a passport. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador's foreign minister, said, "We're considering and exploring the possibility of a mediation". Assange was arrested in London in December that year on a pan-European warrant. Shortly before the 2016 United States election, WikiLeaks accused Ecuadorian officials in the London embassy of temporarily cutting off the former computer hacker's internet access for publishing an array of emails belonging to Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton's campaign in a bid to impact the vote. WikiLeaks said that by staying as long as he had in the embassy, he had served more than 14 times the maximum sentence under United Kingdom law.

In March, Swedish prosecutors offer to question Assange in London.

Ecuador's foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, said at a news conference Thursday that Assange had applied for citizenship September 16 and been granted it December 12. He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and today police have said he will still face arrest if he leaves.

A United Nations panel concluded in 2016 that Assange was under arbitrary detention.

Assange fuelled rumours by Tweeting a photo of himself in the Ecuador national football team kit.

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