Julian Assange was likely granted an Ecuadorian ID card that might be paving the way for a passport, fueling theories that he might be leaving the London embassy soon. The news was originally reported by the Ecuadorian newspaper, El Universo. According to El Universo, Assange was granted a certificate of Ecuadorian citizenship with a code corresponding to the province of Pichincha. RT reported that this is a formal document, such as an ID card, which might be paving the way for diplomatic status or citizenship, but they are still confirming what the ID means and that it definitely belongs to Assange. The document is registered to “Julian Paul Assange.”
Interestingly, RT is reporting that this is an ID that could pave the way for a passport, while Daily Mail is reporting that the document is a passport. The document in question can be found through civil registry number 1729926483, under the name Julian Paul Assange, and was issued on December 21, according to the Daily Mail and El Universo. Assange’s name also appears on the Ecuadorian Internal Revenue Service, with a file that reads: “the citizen/taxpayer has no information registered in the database or recorded by third parties,” El Universo reported.
Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell spoke with RT and said a document like this might help Assange get diplomatic status. “The granting of an identity card is of course potentially the first step towards being granted citizenship of Ecuador, and beyond that, the possibility that he could be granted diplomatic status, which would give him diplomatic immunity,” he said. If he was granted diplomatic immunity with the help of this document, Tatchell said, he would be free to leave and travel to Ecuador without arrest. “This is of course speculation, it’s a long way down the road yet, but clearly the granting of an identity card is a new development,” he said.
Assange has been in the London embassy since 2012. The news about the ID card comes after Ecuador’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, announced yesterday that Assange’s stay was becoming untenable and she was seeking a mediator’s assistance, and possibly the help of a third country or personality. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to questions about Assange’s passport. Instead, the government released a statement today that did not mention that passport, but said that Ecuador has been complying with international laws while also protecting human rights, and has been seeking alternatives to Assange’s situation. The statement ended by saying they would not be responding to rumors about the case. You can read the statement in Spanish below:
After the news about the passport began circulating, Assange tweeted a photo of himself wearing a jersey with the colors of the Ecuadorian flag. This is his first tweet since his New Year’s Day message where he tweeted a 60 character hash along with a link to the song “Paper Airplanes.” On Christmas Eve, his Twitter account was briefly deleted, sparking rumors and questions of censorship and his safety. The account later reappeared, and he was now following 25 people on Twitter, instead of just following 1 account, WikiLeaks, like before. Many people have been wondering if the accounts he was now following offer any kind of hints about his current plans.
Assange had faced charges in Sweden of sexual assault, but those were later dropped. However, Metropolitan Police say he still faces a charge related to failing to surrender to a court and might still be arrested on those charges, BBC reported.
A livestream is set up outside of the Ecuador embassy, in case Assange makes a statement on this news:
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available.