Police gather outside the Ecuador embassy in west London. —Photo Olivia Harris/Reuters
HS: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appeared in public for the first time in months, speaking from the safe haven of a balcony at London’s Ecuadoran embassy.
Mr Assange’s appearance on the balcony was seen as an attempt to avoid arrest. The Australian national, who won political asylum from Ecuador last Thursday, is wanted by Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct.
With police officers primed to detain him, Mr Assange had to find a way of speaking publicly without setting foot outside.
“I ask President Obama to do the right thing - the US must renounce its witchhunt against WikiLeaks,” Mr Assange said. “As WikiLeaks stands under threat so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies.
“Will (the US) return to the revolutionary values it was founded on or will it hurtle off the precipice dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world?”
Mr Assange also called for the freedom of whistleblower Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked a trove of classified US army documents to WikiLeaks. Mr Assange said Mr Manning had spent 815 days in prison without trial.
“If Bradley Manning 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,” Mr Assange said.