Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Britain refuses Assange's bid for diplomatic status

Britain refuses Assange's bid for diplomatic status

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could soon be left without his safe haven at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been residing since 2012.

WikiLeaks' Australian founder, Julian Assange, 46, was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and has remained sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest ever since.

"A person can not live in those conditions for ever", Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa has been quoted as saying.

The number 1729926483 refers to the north-central province of Pinchincha, the daily El Universo reported.

Responding to the UK's refusal to grant him diplomatic status, Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said: "No solution will be achieved without worldwide co-operation and the co-operation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out". "Britain did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter".

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A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that from its perspective: "He is free to leave the Ecuadorian embassy whenever he wants".

Mohinderpal Sethi, a barrister at Littleton Chambers, told the BBC that giving Julian Assange a passport would not necessarily lead to him getting diplomatic immunity, although Ecuador could possibly take some measures to protect him if this was the case.

A proposed diplomatic status - if it had been granted - would give the WikiLeaks' founder diplomatic immunity, which would make it possible for him to leave the embassy and the United Kingdom without fear of arrest.

The rape allegation against the computer programmer had followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. While Swedish prosecutors dropped extradition requests related to sex crime allegations in May 2017, Assange fears that if British police detain him, U.S. prosecutors will immediately issue an extradition request over Wikileaks' decision to publish troves of secret United States military documents. He is still expected to face arrest the moment he steps out of the embassy for breaching the terms of his bail.

WikiLeaks is an worldwide non-profit journalistic organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks and classified media from anonymous sources.

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