WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is one step closer to possibly returning home after receiving an Australian passport, according to a UK newspaper report.
The Evening Standard revealed Friday that the Australian government has confirmed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has once again received an Australian passport. Officials at the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade stated clearly that “Mr Assange does have an Australian passport.” The Londoner reached out to the Ecuadorian embassy in England where a staff member first stated “no comment” but then later added: “He has the right to do whatever he wants, but he doesn’t move on. He could stay here for ever.”
The Evening Standard notes that Assange has had a number of high profile visitors during his time at the embassy, stating:
Assange’s passport had been held up by wrangling over whether it could be issued to him given that a warrant is still out for his arrest in the UK.
His UK lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, reportedly applied for a fresh passport halfway through last year.
Greg Barns, Assange’s Australian lawyer, gave credit to former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop for her role in securing the new document.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Barns thought she had “gone to great lengths to ensure Mr Assange’s rights as an Australian citizen were upheld by being granted a passport”.
The Courage Foundation alleged that Assange’s expulsion from the Ecuadorian embassy was imminent in January, putting Assange at risk of extradition to the United States. Australian barrister Greg Barnes, who acts as an adviser to Assange, praised Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop who he said actively worked to ensure Assange received his passport. Barnes stated: ‘The Australian Government does have a role to play in the resolution of Julian Assange’s case.”