After spending more than half a decade living in the nation’s London embassy, Julian Assange has been granted Ecuadorian citizenship. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, took up residence in the embassy to dodge Swedish extradition over a rape accusation, though he has also expressed worry that the US may request extradition over WikiLeaks’ leaking of classified government documents.
Assange’s time living under political asylum in Ecuador’s embassy has been controversial. Though the original case that prompted his stay has since been dropped, Assange remains holed up in the embassy as he still faces arrest in Britain over skipping bail, according to the AP, though fears of a US extradition are no doubt a big contributing factor.
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 US presidential election in a major way. That was a temporary restriction, but it boiled over into conspiracy theories about a raid against the embassy and Assange’s potential demise.
Those theories aside, all has been somewhat quiet until now. In a big step toward resolving this issue, Ecuador’s government has decided to grant Assange citizenship. There’s still work to be done, however, as the British government has still called on Assange to leave his protection at the embassy to “face justice” in the nation. Ecuador had previously asked Britain to give Assange diplomatic status, but that was rejected.
According to WaPo, Ecuador’s government has confirmed that Assange will remain in the embassy until there is a guarantee that he will be secure in leaving. Assange applied for citizenship in September and was granted it in mid-December 2017.
For its part, the British government issues the following statement earlier today:
Julian Assange is in breach of bail conditions set in 2012 and chose to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy of his own volition. 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.