QUITO/LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was “naturalized” as an Ecuadorean on Dec. 12, at his request, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Thursday, adding that she was seeking a “dignified” solution to his situation with Britain.
Britain said earlier on Thursday it had refused a request by Ecuador for Assange to be given diplomatic status, a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said.
Assange has been holed up for more than five years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.
Ecuador’s foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa confirmed Assange’s citizenship request at a press conference in Quito. She said she feared for threats to Assange’s life coming from third party states.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball in London and Alexandra Valencia in Quito; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Stephen Addison and Andrew Hay