Julian Assange is officially a citizen of Ecuador

World       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

For those who came in late, Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid a Swedish extradition request on a case of alleged rape.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador's foreign minister, told reporters on Thursday that the South American country accepted Assange's application for naturalisation in December.

The Australian-born activist took refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in the United Kingdom capital in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, amid fears that he would have been handed over to the USA to face prosecution over the publication of classified military and diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks. "Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice".

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"Of course whatever alternative (taken) will be made strictly following to the norms and procedures of worldwide law, in coordination with the United Kingdom, a country which we maintain the best relations of friendship and cooperation", Ms Espinosa said.

On Wednesday, the Reuters news agency reported it had found an entry for "Julian Paul Assange" in Ecuador's Civil Registry, which only includes Ecuadorian citizens.

Mr Assange's relationship with Ecuador's leaders hasn't always been stable, with numerous warnings issued for Mr Assange not to meddle in politics since he first sought asylum.

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In October 2016, Ecuador's government cut off Assange's Internet access following WikiLeaks' publication of Clinton staffers' emails, accusing the organization of meddling with the USA presidential election in a major way.

There were reports in newspapers in Quito that he had recently been granted a national identity number. She added that Ecuador was looking to resolve the impasse in a "dignified" way.

Espinosa also noted that the current government had inherited the problem from its predecessor. He was succeeded by Lenín Moreno, who although an ally of Correa's has demonstrated little enthusiasm for Assange's cause. But this week has been a confusing one for the WikiLeaks founder, as rumours have swirled about him possibly leaving the embassy whether he wanted to or not.

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In a separate statement, the ministry said Assange had "committed to not intervening in affairs outside the scope of his asylum status", which seemed an oblique reference to his penchant for creating a stir.

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