Julian Assange makes statement on balcony of Ecuadorean embassy

Read Time:5 Minute, 47 Second

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, gave a dramatic statement from the   Ecuadorean embassy in London today as he condemned his persecution and   attempts to silence whistleblowers

By , at the Ecuadorean embassy 4:57PM BST 19 Aug 2012

Addressing hundreds of loyal supporters outside the central London building   this afternoon, the former computer hacker suggested there was “unity in   oppression”.

He urged the American government “renounce its witch hunt against Wikileaks”   and stop its “war on whistleblowers”.

He also thanked other helpful South American nations and supporters around the   world, plus his family including his children “who have been denied their   father”.

He said: “Forgive me, we will be reunited soon.”

Australian-born Mr Assange remains at the centre of a diplomatic row involving   six countries on five continents, having skipped bail to avoid extradition.

He is facing extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of the sexual assault   of two women, which he denies.

He is currently in the Ecuadorean embassy, central London, which, under the   terms of the Vienna Convention, British police cannot enter.

Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorean embassy

Today, in a 10 minute address to the world’s media camped outside the   building, he accused “teams of police swarming” into the embassy and thanked   supporters from preventing the British government of “throwing away the   Vienna Conventions”.

He said he was standing on the balcony because “I cannot be there today”, in   reference to the threat from police of arrest for breaching his bail   conditions as he thanked their “generosity of spirit”.

His statement in affect prevented police from arresting him.

He told the cheering crowds, when he emerged at 2.20pm: “Thank you for coming.   Thank you for your resolve and your generosity of spirit.

“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 continued: “If the UK did not throw away the Vienna convention the other   night that is because the world was watching. And the world was watching   because you were watching.

“The next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights   we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of   Ecuador.

“And how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a   courageous Latin America nation took a stand for justice.”

He added: “And so, to those brave people. I thank President Correa for the   courage ha has shown in considering and granting me political asylum.

“And so I thank the government, and the Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, who   have upheld the Ecuadorian constitution and its notion of universal rights   in their consideration of my case.

“And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this constitution.”

He also urged the American government and US President Barack Obama to “do the   right thing” and for officials to “renounce its witch hunt against   Wikileaks”. He also urged them to drop their “war on whistleblowers”.

He added: “The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United   States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff, or our   supporters.

“The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue   journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.

“There must be no foolish talk about prosecuting any media organisations. The   US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.

“There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and   determination in the response.”

The first picture of Julian Assange in embassy

Earlier amid chaotic scenes, his legal Balthasar Garcon emerged from the   embassy and said: “I have spoken to Julian Assange and I can tell you he is   in fighting spirits and he is thankful to the people of Ecuador and   especially to the president for granting asylum.”

Mr Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador after its ministers agreed   he was facing persecution and the possible death penalty in the United   States.

But he remains holed up in the embassy in Knightsbridge, surrounded by police   who want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.

A heavy police presence could be seen on the streets of Knightsbridge as   dozens of officers, aided by helicopters overhead, sought to maintain calm.

A huge scrum of press had also gathered outside the embassy, behind Harrods,   as the world’s media waited in blazing sun and at other times, pouring rain.

Mr Asaange, was granted political asylum by Ecuador after its ministers agreed   he was facing persecution and the possible death penalty in the United   States.

But he remains holed up in the embassy in Knightsbridge, surrounded by police   who want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.

The case has provoked a diplomatic stalemate between London, which has said it   was “disappointed” by the long–awaited decision, and Quito, which has   accused Britain of threatening to storm the building to seize Mr Assange.

The saga has been going on for almost two years, since Mr Assange was accused   of raping and sexually assaulting two women on a visit to Sweden where he   was promoting his whistle–blowing website.

He was arrested in London in 2010 but fought extradition to Sweden all the way   to the Supreme Court, fearing it was a pretext for him to be sent to the US   where the authorities were incensed by his release of thousands of   confidential diplomatic cables.

After the court rejected his last appeal in June, Mr. Assange walked into the   embassy and applied for political asylum.

When he refused to come out, he broke his bail terms, becoming liable or   arrest.

The Wikileaks spokesman said the group wanted guarantees from the Swedish   government that it would not extradite Mr Assange to the United States.

“It would be a good basis to negotiate a way to end this matter if the Swedish   authorities would declare without reservation that Julian would never be   extradited from Sweden to the USA,” he said.

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s foreign minister, has said Mr Assange fears   “repression and intimidation” if sent to Sweden.

But Sweden’s foreign minister has accused his Ecuadoran counterpart of living   in a “fantasy world” for granting political asylum to Mr Assange.

Carl Bildt described suggestions by Ecuador that Mr Assange was subject to   political persecution and might be sent by Sweden to face prosecution in the   United States over the website’s activities as “grave accusations”.



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