But when his challenge to the extradition request was rejected, he jumped bail and became a fugitive, turning up at the Ecuadoran Embassy. There have been reports that his health, not surprisingly, has suffered, leading to heart problems and chronic pneumonia.
At a press conference on Thursday in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, the foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, explained that Assange had sought citizenship and that it had been granted on 12 December a year ago.
However, an FCO spokesman said on Wednesday: "The Government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK".
"Ecuador is now exploring other solutions in dialogue with the United Kingdom, like good offices of renowned authorities, other states, or global organizations that could facilitate a just, final and dignified solution for all parties", Espinosa told a press conference in Quito.
"The Ecuadorian government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate. his inclusion in the host state", Espinosa told reporters.
A United Nations panel had observed in 2016 that Assange was under arbitrary detention.
She stressed several times that Ecuador is following all national and global laws and is "dedicated to protecting the human rights" of Assange in this "delicate case".
Prosecutors there dropped the allegations in May 2017. He would still need to alert British authorities of any movement outside the embassy.
Julian Assange looks set to end his five-and-half-year stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London as it looks for a "third country or a personality" to assist in his settlement in the UK. Last year, these tensions came to the fore as Assange was publicly reprimanded by Ecuadorian officials for interfering in the USA election process - by publishing hacked emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign - while claiming asylum.
"The UK should not permit itself to be intimidated by the Trump administration's public threats to 'take down" Mr Assange'.
Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell spoke with RT and said a document like this might help Assange get diplomatic status. "I don't want to comment on the particular case, because I don't want to confirm whether or not there are charges pending", he said.
Assange has been in the London embassy since 2012.
The renewed demands for Assange's head came in the wake of WikiLeaks' release of almost 8,000 web pages detailing an array of classified Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools. In 2010, Wikileaks leaked U.S. military helicopter footage showing the killing of Iraqi civilians. He had surrendered to British police in December 2010, a month after Sweden requested his extradition, and was held for 10 days before he was released on bail.
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