Ecuador Wants Wikileaks's Assange out of London Embassy, Stay 'Untenable'

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum inside Ecuador's embassy in London for five years, was granted Ecuadorian citizenship, the country's foreign minister said Thursday.

Yesterday, Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Assange's stay had become "untenable" and she was seeking a mediator's assistance.

Assange initially sought refuge in the embassy after Sweden sought to have him arrested in connection with allegations of rape and assault. Although the Swedish investigation was dropped past year, he is still facing arrest by British authorities if he leaves the diplomatic compound.

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Earlier on Thursday, Britain said that it had a refused a request by Ecuador to grant Assange diplomatic status, which would have granted him special legal immunity and the right to safe passage under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

WikiLeaks was founded in 2006, but after the site published almost 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents provided by Chelsea Manning - a former United States Army soldier, Assange became a target of investigation by the federal government of the United States.

Ecuador's foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, said at a news conference Thursday that Assange had applied for citizenship September 16 and been granted it December 12. The country's media reports the whistleblower has been granted an Ecuadorian passport. However, he is still facing an arrest warrant in London for failure to surrender to the court in 2012.

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Ecuador said the United Kingdom should guarantee him "safe passage" to Ecuador if he leaves the embassy.

"Ecuador is now exploring other forms of resolution, of course, amid a dialogue with the United Kingdom, for example through mediation", Espinosa said. The Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry at first responded that it would not address "rumors or distorted or out-of-context information", Germany's DPA news agency reported.

An FCO spokesman said: 'The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. A United Nations panel ruled in 2016 that he was being "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free.

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