Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after more than five years of living in asylum at the nation's embassy in London, officials announced Thursday.
The nation's foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had made a decision to permit Assange's naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.
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 global co-operation and the co-operation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out". He added that, as the South American authorities know, the only way for Assange to resolve is to leave the embassy and face the court.
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.
"The government of Ecuador has recently asked Mr Assange to be granted diplomatic status here in the UK, and the United Kingdom did not approve of this request and did not negotiate on the matter", the spokesman quoted the newspaper as saying.
Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into allegations against Mr Assange, but he fears he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves the building and that there is a sealed indictment ordering his arrest.
She stressed several times that Ecuador is following all national and worldwide laws and is "dedicated to protecting the human rights" of Assange in this "delicate case".
Assange is committed to not "intervening in issues non-related with his asylum condition", as requested by Ecuadorian government, the statement continued. Ecuador has repeatedly urged Assange not to interfere in the affairs of other countries following his frequent online comments on worldwide issues. According to Assange's edition, a passport could also have been issued.