WikiLeaks founder Assange becomes naturalized Ecuadorean

WikiLeaks founder Assange becomes naturalized Ecuadorean

Ecudaor on Thursday announced that it has granted citizenship to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks who has been holed up in the country's embassy in London for the past five and a half years, The Guardian reported.

"Ecuador is now exploring other solutions in dialogue with the United Kingdom, like good offices of renowned authorities, other states, or worldwide organizations that could facilitate a just, final and dignified solution for all parties", Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told a press conference. She explained, "What naturalisation does is provide the asylum seeker another layer of protection". The WikiLeaks founder, who maintains his innocence, said he feared that Swedish authorities would extradite him to the United States where he is wanted for disclosing thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. Prosecutors there dropped the case past year, but Assange remained in the embassy after British police said he would still be arrested for violating bail conditions.

Following reports of the news in Ecuadorean media on Wednesday, Assange tweeted a photo of himself wearing the jersey of Ecuador's national soccer team.

The claim regarding Assange's hygiene was revealed after it emerged that Ecuador's application to assign the 46-year-old diplomatic status was rejected by Britain.

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Roughly 30 percent said his policies "aren't making much of a difference". The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's name has appeared in an Ecuadorian government database of citizen identification numbers, fuelling speculation that he may have received citizenship from the Andean country.

"We will continue to protect Julian Assange while his physical and psychological integrity are at risk", Espinosa said.

Mr Assange's relationship with Ecuador's leaders hasn't always been stable, with numerous warnings issued for Mr Assange not to meddle in politics since he first sought asylum. What has changed is Assange's value to Ecuador as a political symbol. "Nobody should pretend that granting him Ecuadorean citizenship is a route to solving this longstanding issue".

A "well-placed" source told The Times that embassy staff have repeatedly complained about Assange's poor hygiene.

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