BRITAIN’S Foreign Office turned down Ecuador’s request to grant Wikileaks founder Julian Assange diplomatic immunity today.
Ecuador, which granted citizenship to Mr Assange yesterday, had asked for him to be granted the status in an effort to end his six-year asylum at its London embassy.
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has given Mr Assange Ecuadorean citizenship and an ID number for Pichincha province, home to the capital Quito.
A ministry spokesperson said: "The current government inherited this issue and it is seeking alternative solutions, with full respect of national and international law, as well as human rights.”
Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said: "No solution will be achieved without international co-operation and the co-operation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out."
Although Swedish prosecutors dropped rape charges and extradition demands against Mr Assange in May last year because there was “no realistic possibility” the long-drawn out case could be pursued, the Crown Prosecution Service says he must face trial for violating a 2012 house arrest order by seeking asylum at the embassy.
Mr Assange argues the extradition bid was just a pretext for his rendition to the US, where he faces espionage charges. In 2016, the UN said his six-year confinement in the embassy amounted to “arbitrary detention.”
In a statement the Foreign Office said: "The UK did not grant that request. Nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter.
"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice."
Mr Assange’s legal team said Britain “should not permit itself to be intimidated by the Trump administration's public threats to 'take down' Mr Assange."
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