Yesterday we reported that based on circumstantial evidence, Ecuador appeared to have granted a passport to Julian Assange just a day after he received a veiled eviction threat.
Then moments ago, in a press conference, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that Ecuador had indeed granted naturalization to Julian Assange on December 12. The reaction of the MFA comes one day after Quito reportedly granted an ID card to Assange.
As a reminder, presaging the announcement, on Wednesday the WikiLeaks founder tweeted a picture of himself wearing an Ecuador football shirt, fueling speculation over his possible citizenship.
This was followed by Ecuador's largest newspaper, El Universo, reported the news, citing "reliable sources". And now, it is confirmed. More from Reuters:
- ECUADOR FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS JULIAN ASSANGE SOUGHT ECUADOR NATURALIZATION
- ECUADOR FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS FEARS THREATS TO JULIAN ASSANGE'S LIFE FROM THIRD PARTY STATES
- ECUADOR GRANTED NATURALIZATION TO JULIAN ASSANGE ON DEC. 12
- ECUADOR SEEKING "DIGNIFIED AND JUST" SOLUTION WITH BRITISH GOVT IN JULIAN ASSANGE CASE
The nation's foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had decided to permit Assange's naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.
Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims.
Sweden dropped the case, though Assange has remained in the embassy because he is still subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail.
The Ecuadorian passport could obtain his first step to obtaining diplomatic immunity, as Ecuador wants to resolve Assange’s indefinite embassy stay. The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for five years.
Ecuador usually issues such ID cards for people claiming residency status, which are called cedulas. The Vienna convention on diplomatic relations states that someone who holds a diplomatic passport is immune from prosecution. It is still no guarantee, however.
However, as VoA reports, the UK Foreign Office rejected a request from Quito to grant the whistleblower diplomatic status. The passport was reportedly granted to him on December 12.
Ecuador’s foreign minister says the country is seeking a “dignified and just” solution with the UK government over Assange’s case. For now however, Assange isn't going anywhere:
- ASSANGE WILL NOT LEAVE ECUADOR EMBASSY IN LONDON WHILE THERE ARE NO SECURITY GUARANTEES - ECUADOR FOREIGN MINISTER