London, Jan 11: The Ecuador government on Thursday granted its citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Country’s foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the government has decided to award him the citizenship to ease his situation. Assange, who made American embassy cables accepting the death of millions in Iraq war public, has been living in Ecuador embassy in London for last five years.

Assange, originally an Australian national, is accused of raping a Swedish woman. However, Assange defended him by saying the relations were made with mutual consent. America has been seeking his extradition too for making classified documents public.

The new move will also help Assange immunity from the arrest in London. The British authorities has denied to give such immunity to Assange. “The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter,” said the spokesperson for UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

A United Nations panel had observed in 2016 that Assange was under arbitrary detention. But the British government has consistently emphasised that  he must face justice in UK courts over his breach of bail conditions.

WikiLeaks is an international non-profit journalistic organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks and classified media from anonymous sources.