Ecuador has granted citizenship to fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the South American nation announced Thursday, in a bid to end his more than five-year stay at its embassy in London and resolve a protracted dispute with Britain.
But a standoff continued with the British government, which rejected an Ecuadoran request that it grant diplomatic status to Assange, insisting instead that the Australian national must leave the embassy to face justice.
Ecuadors foreign minister, Mara Fernanda Espinosa, subsequently said that Assange would not leave the embassy in the absence of security guarantees. She said in a news conference Thursday in Quito, the Ecuadoran capital, that Assange was granted citizenship Dec.12, after having applied for it in September.
Espinosa also said that Ecuador was concerned about potential threats to Assanges life from unspecified other nations and was looking for a dignified way to resolve an unsustainable situation at its London embassy, where Assange has been living in a small office, and end the stalemate with Britain.
[Assange says CIA is waging war on free speech ]
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange spoke at Ecuadors embassy in London on May 19, 2017, after Swedish prosecutors said they were dropping the probe into a rape allegation against him. (Reuters)
The British government said in a statement Thursday that the granting of Ecuadoran nationality does not in any way change Julian Assanges legal status in Britain.
Julian Assange is in breach of bail conditions set in 2012 and chose to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy of his own volition, the statement added. 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.
Assange, who angered the U.S. government when his anti-secrecy organization published troves of classified documents obtained in 2010 from a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, sought refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in August 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was sought for alleged sexual offenses. Sweden later dropped the case, but Assange remained ensconced in the embassy because he still faced arrest in Britain for jumping bail.
He also has expressed fear of extradition to the United States, where the Justice Department is weighing whether to charge him for his role in publishing the secret documents leaked by Army soldier Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning.
News of the move to grant Assange citizenship emerged Wednesday when the Ecuadoran newspaper El Universo reported that, according to the countrys civil register, he had been assigned an identity number. The daily reported that Assange also may have been issued a passport.
[Timeline: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks]
The Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry at first responded that it would not address rumors or distorted or out-of-context information, Germanys DPA news agency reported.
Assange surrendered to British police in December 2010, a month after Sweden requested his extradition, and was held for 10 days before he was released on bail. But when his effort to block extradition was rejected, he jumped bail and became a fugitive, seeking asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy.
His asylum request was granted by Ecuadors then-president, Rafael Correa, a fiery leftist and fierce critic of Washington who once expelled the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. Agency for International Development from his country.
However, Correa was succeeded last year by his former vice president, Lenn Moreno, who has sought to put Ecuador on a more moderate path. The new president also engaged in a public spat with Assange over the WikiLeaks founders vocal support for Catalan separatists in Spain.
[Justice Department debates new charges against WikiLeaks]
The Washington Post reported in April 2017 that federal prosecutors were weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of WikiLeaks, revisiting the 2010 publication of U.S. diplomatic cables and military documents, and investigating the organizations more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools.
Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the governments most sensitive secrets on grounds that doing so would be like prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. But President Trumps Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated that it may take a different view.
When Assange sought refuge in the red-brick Ecuadoran Embassy in the Knightsbridge area of London, next to Harrods department store in one of the citys poshest areas, he said his underlying concern was that returning to Sweden would lead to extradition to the United States.
Last year, Swedish prosecutors said they were dropping an investigation into sexual assault allegations because they were unable to serve him notice.
Internal memos from staff at the embassy, seen by BuzzFeed and the journalist Fernando Villavicencio, paint a picture of a sometimes stressful and difficult relationship between Assange and his hosts.
A more public dispute emerged in 2016 when Ecuador cut off Assanges Internet connection due to concerns that WikiLeaks was interfering in the U.S. presidential election after the organization published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.
[Chelsea Manning denies betraying U.S.]
A medical evaluation of Assange, written anonymously and tweeted by WikiLeaks in 2016, said his bedroom was just big enough for a single bed and a small cupboard for clothes. It complained that there is no room for a chair or desk and that the room receives no sunlight. It added that Assange has shared use of a second room, containing a desk, chairs and a treadmill.
At her news conference Thursday in Quito, Espinosa lamented that Ecuadors latest attempts to resolve the stalemate in a way acceptable to Britain were leaked prematurely. Apart from trying to arrange diplomatic status for Assange, she said, Another option has been granting the asylee a special status, recognized under the Geneva Convention of diplomatic relations, with the aim of increasing his chances of protection.
WikiLeaks first burst onto the world scene a decade ago with headline-grabbing revelations about alleged abuses at the U.S. militarys Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The nonprofit, whose mission was to publish leaked documents revealing official malfeasance and overreach, and its flamboyant but reserved boss quickly became darlings of progressives and freedom-of-information campaigners.
But since then, Assange and his organization have fallen from favor, alienating many on the left by providing a conduit for purloined Democratic Party emails that helped undermine Hillary Clintons 2016 presidential bid. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the stolen material came from Russian hackers working for the Kremlin, although Assange has denied knowing their provenance.
The sexual assault allegations also tarnished Assanges reputation. Unable to interview the only suspect in the case, Swedish prosecutors shelved their investigation, although they could reopen it if they were able finally to gain access to him.
[Assanges squabbles with Ecuadors new president could jeopardize his London refuge]
For Correa, providing refuge to Assange offered the then-president a chance to raise his international profile while cementing his leftist credentials during a stormy period at home. However, Moreno, with whom Correa has now had a spectacular falling-out, has proved a less enthusiastic ally of Assange.
The current Ecuadoran president has publicly told Assange to refrain from getting involved in Catalonias independence struggle and politics more generally. In response, Assange angrily tweeted back that Moreno was trying to gag my reporting of human rights abuses.
Ecuadoran analysts said Moreno has been looking for a face-saving strategy to get Assange out of the London embassy, where his continued presence brings the president little domestic political benefit while placing him at diplomatic loggerheads with the United States and other Western democracies.
Ramiro Crespo, a Quito-based investment analyst, said the Moreno administration has become increasingly uncomfortable hosting Assange in the embassy, adding that Ecuador no longer needs to deflect attention from its repression of journalists, an authoritarian Correa policy that Moreno has reversed.
Assanges presence in the embassy has very high diplomatic and reputational costs for Ecuador, Crespo said. Correa used Assange as a propaganda weapon to say that he was a defender of human rights, something that no one in Ecuador believes anymore.
Moreno is more pragmatic and wants to have good relations with the U.S. and Europe, Crespo added, and Assange really has no utility for him.
Adam reported from London. Tegel reported from Lima, Peru.
Julian Assange is squabbling with Ecuadors new president. That could put his London refuge at risk.
Why WikiLeaks and Julian Assange hate the WikiLeaks movie
Ecuadors popular, powerful president Rafael Correa is a study in contradictions
Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world
Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news
Go here to see the original:
Ecuador grants WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange citizenship …
- Julian Assange ordered by Ecuador to curb speech, clean ... - October 18th, 2018
- Julian Assange needs to take care of his cat, or itll be ... - October 18th, 2018
- Ecuador restores internet access to Julian Assange in embassy base ... - October 14th, 2018
- The image of Julian Assange grows darker by the day - The Washington Post - October 2nd, 2018
- Julian Assange appoints new WikiLeaks editor-in-chief ... - October 1st, 2018
- Was there a plan to help Julian Assange escape to Russia? - September 30th, 2018
- Wikileaks Julian Assange Steps Down. Heres Its New Editor | Fortune - September 29th, 2018
- WikiLeaks names new editor-in-chief, replacing Julian Assange | Fox News - September 29th, 2018
- WikiLeaks replaces Julian Assange as its editor-in-chief ... - September 29th, 2018
- Julian Assange is no longer editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks - September 29th, 2018
- Julian Assange replaced as Wikileaks editor-in-chief | TheHill - September 29th, 2018
- WikiLeaks replaces Julian Assange as editor-in-chief - September 28th, 2018
- Julian Assange Went After a Former Ally. It Backfired Epically. - September 28th, 2018
- Julian Assange steps down at Wikileaks - September 28th, 2018
- Julian Assange 'considering' testifying before US Senate ... - September 27th, 2018
- Julian Assange: International diplomat? - hotair.com - September 27th, 2018
- Did Russia Try to Rescue Julian Assange? | Vanity Fair - September 27th, 2018
- Russia plotted sneaking Julian Assange out of Ecuadorian ... - September 27th, 2018
- Ecuador wanted to make Julian Assange a diplomat and send him ... - September 27th, 2018
- Julian Assange's Mother: Seth Rich Was DNC Leaker - Your News ... - September 19th, 2018
- Julian Assange's fate rests on death penalty assurances ... - September 19th, 2018
- Petition to Trump: Pardon Julian Assange - infowars.com - September 19th, 2018
- Julian Assange - LewRockwell - September 12th, 2018
- Julian Assange is in poor health, needs treatment, says ... - September 8th, 2018
- As his isolation intensifies, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange faces ... - August 29th, 2018
- Julian Assange, The Man Behind WikiLeaks - CBS News - August 27th, 2018
- Why Democracy Needs Solidarity for Julian Assange's Freedom - August 25th, 2018
- Assanges Mother Claims DNC Staffer Leaked Data To Wikileaks ... - August 25th, 2018
- Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism - counterpunch.org - August 24th, 2018
- London: Ecuador embassy vigil marks six years since Julian ... - August 22nd, 2018
- We hear Julian Assange is 'seriously' considering coming to ... - August 21st, 2018
- Mueller investigation seeks to implicate WikiLeaks and Julian ... - August 21st, 2018
- Julian Assange pardon push going nowhere one year later - August 21st, 2018
- Julian Assange wanted to testify before Senate Intelligence ... - August 8th, 2018
- Julian Assange Is About To Lose Asylum, Arrest Imminent - August 7th, 2018
- Assange's refuge in Ecuadorian embassy 'in jeopardy ... - August 5th, 2018
- Why Americans Need to Defend Julian Assanges Freedom - August 5th, 2018
- Julian Assanges lawyer: Australian government has a duty ... - August 5th, 2018
- Julian Assange must eventually leave London embassy, says Ecuador - August 1st, 2018
- Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder wants Australian government ... - August 1st, 2018
- WikiLeaks' Julian Assange could face 'imminent' embassy expulsion - July 31st, 2018
- Julian Assange faces imminent expulsion from Ecuadorean Embassy - July 30th, 2018
- Wikileaks' Julian Assange will be removed from Ecuadorean ... - July 28th, 2018
- Julian Assange looks for deal to end 'diplomatic isolation' - CNN - July 28th, 2018
- Julian Assange's team 'making plans for imminent expulsion ... - July 28th, 2018
- WikiLeaks' Julian Assange may be evicted from Ecuador ... - July 26th, 2018
- The Arrest of Julian Assange Appears Near - Truthdig - July 25th, 2018
- Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum for Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange - July 25th, 2018
- Is this finally the end for Julian Assange? - hotair.com - July 25th, 2018
- Ecuador close to evicting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange ... - July 25th, 2018
- Martyrs to the Cause: Carter Page and Julian Assange ... - July 25th, 2018
- Julian Assange to be handed over to UK officials: Report - July 22nd, 2018
- Julian Assange Could Be Turned Over To U.K. Authorities Soon ... - July 22nd, 2018
- Julian Assange: Ecuador may be close to ejecting him from its ... - July 22nd, 2018
- A Call to Bring Julian Assange Home Consortiumnews - July 21st, 2018
- Pamela Anderson Opens Up About Being Linked to Julian Assange ... - July 21st, 2018
- Julian Assange, CrowdStrike, and the Russian Hack That Wasnt ... - July 18th, 2018
- Report: Julian Assange Soon May Be Kicked Out of Embassy - July 18th, 2018
- Why I Stand With Julian Assange | The American Conservative - July 17th, 2018
- Persecution of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange continues ... - July 10th, 2018
- Julian Assange - Computer Programmer, Journalist, Activist ... - July 6th, 2018
- "I Am Julian Assange" | Zero Hedge - July 4th, 2018
- The Next Step: The Campaign for Julian Assange - July 4th, 2018
- UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US | Human ... - June 26th, 2018
- Vigil for the health of Julian Assange to take place in ... - June 25th, 2018
- Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case - Antiwar.com Original - June 23rd, 2018
- Bring Julian Assange Home - counterpunch.org - June 20th, 2018
- Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, receives rare embassy ... - June 10th, 2018
- Free Julian Assange rallies called in Sri Lanka and India ... - June 10th, 2018
- Pamela Anderson Defends Russia and Julian Assange: Ive ... - June 10th, 2018
- Lift the ban on communications! Free Julian Assange ... - June 8th, 2018
- Pamela Anderson Says Trump Should Pardon Julian Assange - June 8th, 2018
- Ecuador's president says Julian Assange can stay in ... - June 1st, 2018
- Julian Assange: UK 'threat' to arrest Wikileaks founder - BBC ... - May 31st, 2018
- Julian Assange's refuge 'in jeopardy' - CNN Video - May 26th, 2018
- Ecuador to remove Julian Assange's extra security from ... - May 21st, 2018
- The ballad of Pammy and Julian Assange - her poor ... - May 4th, 2018
- Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange's internet access at ... - March 29th, 2018
- Julian Assange loses Internet access - The Washington Post - March 29th, 2018
- Ecuador cutting off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's ... - March 29th, 2018