Assange situation 'not sustainable', says Ecuador government

12 January, 2018, 03:18 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno has been infuriated by Assange's criticism of his political allies abroad

Ms Espinosa said Ecuador had granted Assange citizenship while it looked for a "dignified" solution to his situation with Britain.

Ecuador had applied for Assange to receive diplomatic status, that would presumably let him leave the embassy without a pair of handcuffs, but the Foreign Office has rejected that request.

Ecuador will continue to protect Assange, but that he can not stay at the embassy indefinitely, Ms Espinosa said.

"The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the United Kingdom", a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said, according to Reuters.

Wikileaks and the Ecuadorian embassy have yet to respond to a request for comment.

Ecuador's Foreign Ministry in a statement said it was exploring options to resolve Assange's situation, without making a reference to the citizenship issue. Although the Swedish investigation was dropped past year, he is still facing arrest by British authorities if he leaves the diplomatic compound.

However, UK police say he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge for failing to surrender to the court in 2012. Foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told a press conference that Assange became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12.

Assange was awarded diplomatic asylum in mid-2012 by President Rafael Correa on the grounds that the Wikileaks leader's life was in danger should he be extradited to the face charges of leaking classified information.

Despite Trump's campaign rhetoric about his "love" for WikiLeaks after it released internal emails of the Democratic National Committee exposing its corrupt bid to rig the presidential nomination process to ensure the victory of Hillary Clinton, administration officials have since made clear that Assange remains Washington's "public enemy number one".

His stay in the Ecuador embassy has been reported to have cost the Metropolitan Police in London several million USA dollars in police presence outside the embassy.

What has changed is Assange's value to Ecuador as a political symbol.

Assange's legal team this week reiterated its demand that London abide by the United Nations ruling declaring him to be unlawfully and arbitrarily detained and calling for him to be freed and compensated.

Espinosa, who had already announced that the Australian journalist is in poor health, explained that no person should live such conditions as Assange, since the founder of Wikileaks has been "in a small office" for more than five years, without being able to "access sunlight or breathe fresh air".

The UK could agree not arrest him and permit his transfer to an airport so he can be flown to Quito.

Assange faces both criminal and congressional investigations in the United States.

Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell spoke with RT and said a document like this might help Assange get diplomatic status.

When he came into power in May 2017, Moreno appeared to have adopted the same stance as his predecessor Rafael Correa, who defended Assange.


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