Julian Assange diplomatic status bid rejected by UK
The UK has turned down a request from Ecuador to grant diplomatic status to Julian Assange – as a means of breaking a longstanding deadlock over his fate.
Mr Assange faces arrest for breaking his bail conditions if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has resided since 2012, claiming asylum.
He had been wanted on assault claims in Sweden, which have been dropped, but now fears extradition to the US.
The Foreign Office said Mr Assange must leave the embassy and “face justice”.
Mr Assange, 46, breached bail conditions when he sought political refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, while facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden.
Prosecutors there dropped the allegations in May 2017.
However, UK police say he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge for failing to surrender to the court in 2012.
An FCO spokesman said: “The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. 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.”
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 international co-operation and the co-operation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out.”
It comes after Mr Assange posted a picture of himself in an Ecuadorian football shirt, amid unconfirmed reports he had been issued an Ecuadorian passport.
In 2016, a UN panel stated that Mr Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” and should get compensation – a ruling branded by then UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as “ridiculous”.
The UK has also refused to guarantee that Mr Assange will not be extradited to the US where he could face charges for his role in releasing classified military documents.