Julian Assange Has Been Granted Citizenship By Ecuador After 5 Years Of Staying In Its Embassy In London

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For a guy who’s been sitting in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012, Julian Assange can still bring the drama. A few days ago, Ecuador appeared to be done with the WikiLeaks founder while calling his stay “unsustainable,” which seemed odd after it was further revealed that Ecuador granted Assange a passport in December. It seemed as though Ecuador had a change of heart, and on Wednesday, the U.K. announced that it had denied a bid for diplomatic status made by Ecuador on behalf of Assange, which led some to believe that he’d run out of options. However, a new twist has arrived.

The Associated Press now reports that Ecuador (after Reuters noticed that Assange appeared in a database that could indicate citizenship status) has granted nationality to the notorious fugitive:

[Ecuador’s] foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had decided to permit Assange’s naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.

Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims.

Assange has been free and clear from Sweden’s rape investigation since May, which is when the country decided to drop charges. However, he stayed in Ecuador’s embassy in London (where Pam Anderson has continued to pay him regular visits) because he breached bail and could be arrested if he leaves the embassy. Where his story goes from here isn’t quite clear. Some reports suggested that Ecuador previously wanted to deport Assange to Australia (where he was born), thereby having a third nation solve the problem.

Yet Ecuador has spoken and considers Assange a citizen. One interesting note to make, however, is that Ecuador has an extradition treaty with the U.S., but the ruling regime is not keen to enforce the agreement for almost purely political reasons. So while the Justice Department has declared it a “priority” for Assange to be extradited to the U.S. and be charged (despite First Amendment concerns), that’s not likely to happen. In other words, Pam Anderson is probably having a party right now.

(Via Reuters, Associated Press, ABC & Slate)