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Britain’s Foreign Office has rejected a request (Guardian) from the Ecuadorian government to grant diplomatic status to Julian Assange, a possible attempt to break the stalemate over the WikiLeaks founder who has been living in the nation’s London embassy for more than five years.
“Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice,” the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
Assange has remained within the embassy for fear that he will be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution over WikiLeaks if he leaves. Originally he sought refuge against extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted on sexual assault charges. But as Sweden has an extradition agreement with the U.S., he feared he would be sent there ultimately.
James Ball, a journalist who had worked at WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011, wrote a critical op-ed in the Guardian on why Assange has not yet left the embassy.
Pride, Ball wrote, is “the only barrier” to him leaving.
“The problem for both sides is that neither wants to lose face: Assange wants to be a symbol of resistance against an overreaching U.S. state, and does not want to admit his asylum was about his personal actions and not those of WikiLeaks. Ecuador does not want to suggest it made a mistake in granting Assange asylum,” Ball wrote.
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