Why did Ecuador grant citizenship to WikiLeaks founder?

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange has been living in asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London since 2012. Assange is trying to avoid being arrested for leaking classified State Department documents on his website.

The Ecuadorian government had asked United Kingdom for diplomatic status for Assange, aiming to reinforce his protection status. The South American country attempts to accredit Assange as part of the Ecuadorian diplomat team, in order to facilitate his departure from the embassy in London. Furthermore, if recognized as part of the diplomatic team Assange would travel to the South American country. However, the United Kingdom rejected the request, arguing that "the only way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the (Ecuadorian) embassy to face justice”.

If Assange steps out the Ecuadorian embassy in London without any status that provides him protection, he could be arrested and even extradited to the USA for leaking confidential information of governments, companies, and world figures through his website. Additionally, there was a requirement of Swedish justice against him, which has already prescribed, for alleged accusations of sexual abuse.

Ecuadorian citizenship

In the middle of UK’s decision of denying the diplomatic status requested for Assange, the chancellery of Ecuador confirmed that the South American country granted Assange a national identification. Thus, the decision makes him an Ecuadorian citizen.

This new citizenship status took place on December 12. However, it appears to change little for Assange in the immediate future, because he would still need to alert British authorities of any movement outside the embassy.

*Assange obtained Ecuadorian citizenship; however, UK government did not recognize his diplomatic status after it rejected the petition. *

"We are convinced that Foreign Ministry has acted in defense of the interests of the country, the guarantee of human rights of the asylum and in strict adherence to the Law, the Constitution and international human rights instruments" said the Ecuadorian office through a tweet released from its official account.

Nevertheless, the non-concession of political status requested by Assange delays his 'freedom'. Before that measure, the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, affirmed that her government will continue to seek alternatives for Assange. Espinosa claimed that "in strict adherence to the norms and procedures of international law, in coordination with the United Kingdom, a country with which we maintain the best relations of friendship and cooperation".

Julian Assange, Ecuador, and the United Kingdom

Since July 19, 2012, the renowned programmer, journalist, and cyber-activist Julian Assange remains as refugee at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. This is a country that provided political asylum arguing that his human rights were being violated. The decision then led to a diplomatic crisis between Ecuador and the United Kingdom, since by sheltering him within Ecuadorian territory, Assange avoided preventive prison at home.

Julian Assange has received numerous awards for his journalistic career. In 2009 Amnesty International UK Media Award (New Media), awarded for exposing extrajudicial killings in Kenya.

In 2011 he was included in the Time 100 list, as one of the most influential people of the world. In the same year, the Sydney Peace Foundation awarded him a gold medal for his "exceptional courage and initiative in the search for human rights".


LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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