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Assange scolds U.S. from Ecuador Embassy

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Julian Assange s'adressant aux médias par la fenêtre de l'ambassade de l'Equateur, le 19 août 2012, à Londres. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Julian Assange made his first public appearance after since June on Sunday, addressing a crowd from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.


In an attempt to avoid an immediate arrest by British police should he step outside, he opted for the safety of the balcony as he gave a speech to his supporters below.

Last Wednesday, Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador, after he sought refuge in its London embassy since 19 June.

“I ask President Obama to do the right thing: the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks”, Assange said as he scolded the U.S. for its outrage following Wikileaks publishing of secret diplomatic cables in 2010 that led to the arrest of American army analyst Bradley Manley. “If Bradley Manley did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners…Manning must be released” stressed the Wikileaks founder.

Assange went on to compare himself to the Russian punk band Pussy Riot and the New York Times newspaper as examples of free speech that suffer from oppression.

More than 50 supporters of Assange had been sleeping on cardboard sheets outside the embassy since Wednesday, waiting for him to make a public appearance and to show their support of his controversial political situation.

Assange is sought in Sweden for two charges of sexual offences. The United Kingdom has agreed to extradite him to Sweden, but he fears that Sweden will soon hand him off to U.S. authorities for the leaks published on his website.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, said the small South American country had a duty to protect Assange, but indicated that there may be room for discussion with Sweden. “If talks with Britain and Sweden, or the United States could lead to a clear written statement guaranteeing Mr. Assange’s life and safety, it would be possible for him to go to Sweden to face trial”, said Patino following the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) bloc meeting held in Ecuador.

Patino added that the Ecuadorean government was considering asking the International Court of Justice in The Hague to adjudicate.