Assange: U.S. ‘Must Renounce Witch Hunt Against WikiLeaks’Posted: August 19, 2012
Julian Assange said on Sunday that the United States “must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks” in his first public appearance since taking refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London two months ago.
Speaking from an embassy balcony, Assange called on President Obama to end the United States’ “war on whistleblowers,” and to put a stop to the prosecution of “any media organisation, be it WikiLeaks or The New York Times.”
“The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation,” said Assange. “The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff, 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.”
Assange also demanded that the United States release Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who was arrested in 2010 for allegedly giving classified documents to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has published the material in question, but neither Assange nor any other WikiLeaks staff member has ever confirmed if Manning was the source.
“If Bradley Manning really did as accused, he is a hero, an example to us all and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners,” said Assange, who added that Manning has been imprisoned for 815 days without trial.
Following Assange’s speech, Manning’s name quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.
Assange also thanked his supporters who appeared on the street outside the embassy, as well as the Ecuadorian government and other governments of Latin America.
The embattled WikiLeaks founder sought protection at Ecuador’s embassy in London on June 19 after exhausting his judicial options for appealing extradition from the UK to Sweden. He’s been granted asylum by Ecuador, but the UK won’t allow him safe passage to leave the embassy.
Prosecutors in Sweden want to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct, but Assange believes the extradition request is the product of a back-room deal between Sweden and the United States. Assange fears the American government wants to prosecute him for WikiLeaks’ release of classified American documents.
Assange made no mention during his address of the allegations of sex crimes made against him.
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