Ecudaor on Thursday announced that it has granted citizenship to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks who has been holed up in the country’s embassy in London for the past five and a half years, The Guardian reported. The country’s Foreign Ministry said Assange was granted citizenship on December 12.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said at a press conference in Capital city Quito that the government was concerned about potential threats to Assange’s life from unspecified nations, The Washington Post reported. She added that Ecuador was looking to resolve the impasse in a “dignified” way.

The UK Foreign Office on Wednesday said it had turned down a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant Assange diplomatic status. “The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter,” the Foreign Office said. “Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.”

Assange has been in the embassy of the South American country in London’s Knightsbridge locality since 2012. He had refused to surrender to UK’s law enforcement agencies even after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual crimes, including rape. Assange said he fears that Sweden would extradite him to the United States.

In May 2017, Swedish prosecutors dropped the preliminary investigation into the rape charges, which Assange had denied.