Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday.

She called the measure “one more ring of protection” for Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 in an effort to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant on rape allegations — a charge he has always denied.

Assange, 46, has previously expressed concern that if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London he could end up being extradited to the US, where he fears facing the death penalty over allegations of revealing government secrets through WikiLeaks.

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Assange’s legal team has called on UK and Swedish authorities to end his “deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.”

“The UN ruling, issued almost two years ago, is crystal clear in its language, Mr Assange is unlawfully and arbitrarily detained by the UK authorities and must be released,” Assange’s legal team said on Twitter.

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