UK denies Assange diplomatic status after Ecuador request

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Britain's Foreign Office said Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 it has rejected Ecuador's request to grant diplomatic status to Assange. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2018

UK denies Assange diplomatic status after Ecuador request

LONDON: Britain said on Thursday it has denied a request by Ecuador to issue diplomatic status to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in the country’s London embassy since 2012.
“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,” the British foreign ministry said in a statement.
Ecuador’s attempt to obtain diplomatic status for the 46-year-old comes as part of the country’s broader efforts to resolve the case of their long-term lodger, who moved into the embassy to avoid arrest over a Swedish probe into rape allegations.
Sweden dropped their investigation over the 2010 allegations last year, but British police have said they are still seeking to arrest him for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms.
“Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice,” Britain’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Assange has refused to step outside the embassy and claimed he fears being extradited to the United States, for WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said on Tuesday her government is looking at the possibility of a “third country or a personality” stepping in to resolve the stand-off.
“No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out,” Espinosa told foreign correspondents in Quito.
On Wednesday the Ecuadorian foreign ministry refused to comment on media reports that Assange, an Australian national, has been granted citizenship by the South American country.


Germany extends distancing rules to end of June

Updated 11 min 53 sec ago

Germany extends distancing rules to end of June

  • Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible
  • Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to open up entirely

BERLIN: Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to June 29, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible, according to the rules agreed between the federal government and 16 states.
Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely.
Germany’s virus caseload now tops 179,000 with just over 8,300 deaths — much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
“This success is mainly based on the fact that the rules on distance and hygiene have been implemented and respected,” the government and the regions said.
However, officials warned that further restrictions could be imposed if local outbreaks made them necessary.