Britain Rejects Bid to Grant Julian Assange Diplomatic Status

The United States attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has said that arresting Mr. Assange is a priority.

“We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks, and some of them are quite serious,” he said last year.

When Swedish prosecutors dropped their effort to have him extradited last year, they said it was not for reasons of guilt or innocence but because they saw no hope of compelling Mr. Assange to leave the embassy.

Britain Rejects Bid to Grant Julian Assange Diplomatic Status
Britain Rejects Bid to Grant Julian Assange Diplomatic Status

However, the British police say that he is still subject to arrest on charges of jumping bail, and Mr. Assange faces the strong possibility that the United States has issued a secret arrest and extradition warrant in connection with his assistance to Chelsea Manning, the Army private who was later convicted of revealing state secrets.

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The request comes amid a flurry of activity suggesting that the Ecuadorean government had ramped up efforts to find a solution for Mr. Assange, a polarizing figure in Ecuador and around the world.

The country’s foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, said on Tuesday that Ecuador was looking for a third-party mediator that could broker a deal to allow Mr. Assange to leave the embassy.

“We’re considering, exploring the possibility of a mediation,” she said, according to Reuters. “No solution can be reached without international cooperation and without cooperation from the United Kingdom, which in addition has shown interest in finding a solution.”

Greg Barns, a lawyer who advises both Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks, said in a telephone interview from New Zealand that the situation was “intolerable” for both his client and for Ecuador.

The embassy is in the affluent Knightsbridge section of London, but Mr. Assange, he said, has been effectively “imprisoned with no access to natural light and fresh air for a period of five and a half years.”

Mr. Barns suggested that the Australian government would be an obvious candidate to step in as a third-party mediator, given that Mr. Assange is a citizen of Australia, which has excellent relations with Britain.

Mr. Barns also said that he had previously asked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, a former colleague, to intervene, but that he had not received a response.

Ceylan Yeginsu and Michael Wolgelenter reported from London, and Adam Baidawi from Melbourne, Australia.

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