Following a "total victory" last spring, Julian Assange has faced a setback in his attempt to extricate himself from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London that's been his home for five and a half years. The British government announced Thursday it had rejected Ecuador's request to grant Assange diplomatic status, which might've allowed him to leave the embassy for Ecuador, where the 46-year-old has just been granted citizenship, report the New York Times and AP. Assange entered the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced rape allegations. The country dropped its investigation into the allegations last year, citing the unlikelihood of extradition. But UK police said Assange still faced arrest over bail violations. Plus, Assange fears being arrested and extradited to the US, where he faces charges related to WikiLeaks.
Luckily for Assange, Ecuador's request for diplomatic status is just one part of "a flurry of activity suggesting that the Ecuadorean government had ramped up efforts to find a solution," per the Times. In addition to the granting of citizenship, the country's foreign minister on Tuesday raised the possibility of a third-party mediator helping to broker a deal that would end Assange's "untenable" stay in London, per the Guardian. "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," the minister said, per Reuters. Britain's Foreign Office put a damper on that plan Thursday. Stressing Britain isn't in talks with Ecuador, a statement from the Foreign Office notes "Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice," per the Times. (Read more Julian Assange stories.)