Assange makes defiant statement from balcony of Ecuador embassy
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has made a defiant statement from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, calling for Barack Obama to “do the right thing” and “renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks”.
He gave an insight into the scenes inside the embassy during the tense hours after he was granted asylum by the Ecuadorean government, and thanked his supporters for their night-time vigil.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and the police descended on the building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it and you brought the world’s eyes with you. Inside the embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape. But I knew that there would be witnesses. And that is because of you.”
He also thanked Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, embassy staff and other Latin American countries who have supported his cause. Assange did not mention the allegations of sexual misconduct that could see him extradited to Sweden, preferring to focus on the issue of social justice and the importance of the work of WikiLeaks.
He called for an end to the persecution of whistleblowers, highlighting the cause of Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier arrested in 2010 on suspicion of having passed classified material to WikiLeaks. “If Bradley Manning really did as he is accused, he is a hero, an example to us all and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners. Bradley Manning must be released. On Wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.” He also drew a connection to the plight of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, recently sentenced to two years in a forced labour camp by the Putin government for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.
“There is unity in the oppression,” Assange said. “There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.”