Julian Assange’s future seemed to be rather bleak after the Ecuadorian government took offense at his comments on Catalonia, but things have since taken a turn for the better.
Earlier this week, we reported that Assange could be losing his political asylum from the Ecuadorian government after months of public remarks supporting the Catalan independence movement. Spain and Ecuador are close allies, and anything that undermines the Spanish government is met with disdain by the Ecuadorian government.
Nonetheless, Assange still ardently supported the Catalans in their movement. Ecuador’s government warned Assange against making such statements, a veiled threat against the political asylum granted to him. Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been for five years, evading arrest from American and Swedish governments for a host of criminal allegations.
Contrary to the rumor published by the New York Post, it appears that Assange is only becoming closer to Ecuador than he was before. According to the Daily Mail, he is now an Ecuadorian citizen.
Ecuador has granted citizenship to Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London for more than five years to avoid arrest.
The WikiLeaks founder became a citizen of Ecuador on December 12, and now the country is seeking a ‘dignified and just’ solution with the British Government, as Assange continues to live in its London Embassy.
Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday that Ecuador had asked London to recognise Assange as a diplomat – which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest – but Britain had refused.
“The Ecuadoran government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate… his inclusion in the host state,” Espinosa told reporters.
This news comes just a day after it was revealed that he was granted an Ecuadorian passport. On Wednesday, Assange posted a picture of himself in an Ecuadorian football (soccer) shirt, which fueled suspicions that he had received citizenship. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened.
Ecuador is now seeking to get Assange out of the United Kingdom, but right now the only way to do so risks him being immediately arrested and extradited to the United States; he suspects that there is a sealed indictment against him demanding an arrest for leaking classified information against the United States government (including information like alleged war crimes in Iraq, and the vast array of spying capabilities employed by the intelligence community).
Ecuador’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, stated that “No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out.”
The London Metropolitan Police have spent millions of pounds watching the embassy, hoping to immediately seize upon any opportunity to nab him. He faces a charge of failing to surrender to a court.
Though he now has Ecuadorian citizenship, it remains unclear how Assange may be able to leave the embassy in London. If diplomatic status is not given, then any number of law enforcement agencies could pick him up and extradite him to face the charges.
Though his relationship wit Ecuador does not seem to be in danger of waning, his ability to leave the embassy is still effectively nil.