Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been held up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest & extradition to the United States, was today denied diplomatic status by the UK government.
The anti-secrecy group’s chief has been based at the Ecuador embassy in central London since 2012 after he lost appeals against sexual assault charges in Sweden.
The request for diplomatic status was made on behalf of the 46-year-old campaigner by the Ecuadorean government, which has reportedly issued a passport to the Australian national after he had sought political asylum from the South American country five & a half years ago.
“The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter,” said a spokesperson for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
“Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice,” the spokesperson added.
According to media reports from Ecuador earlier this week, Assange has been registered to the province of Pichincha, which covers the capital Quito.
The public database of the country’s internal revenue service indicates that the travel document was delivered to Assange on December 21st, indicating that the country is preparing for the campaigner’s exit from his London hideout.
Ecuador foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa has said that the country is seeking a neutral third-party nation’s mediation to revolve what she described as an “untenable” situation.
While the grant of a passport has not been officially confirmed, it is seen as part of a process to get Assange out of the UK by giving him a role at the embassy that confers diplomatic immunity.
The rape allegation against the computer programmer had followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010.
Assange has always denied the sexual assault allegations against him, claiming the sex was consensual & that the case was politically motivated to get him extradited to the US over massive Wikileaks dumps of secret US military reports that year.