The Lookout

Assange speaks from Ecuador embassy balcony, slams U.S. ‘witch hunt’

Assange speaks from a balcony at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Aug. 19, 2012. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

There was no arrest. No escape. No surrender. No assassination attempt. No human smuggling. No helicopter or hovercraft. Just a wanted man, on a balcony with a microphone.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerged from a window onto a small balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Sunday, where he made his first public remarks since being granted asylum.

"I ask President Obama to do the right thing," Assange, who's been holed up in the embassy since June, said as he read a written statement. "The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The Unites States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters."

A crowd of 200 gathered near the embassy to hear Assange speak as dozens of London police officers--who had created a wide barrier in front of the embassy--stood watch.

[Slideshow: The scene outside the embassy]

On Thursday, Ecuador's foreign minister announced that the country would grant asylum to Assange, defying threats by the British government to storm the Ecuadorean Embassy and extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in cases of alleged rape and sexual molestation.

"We have decided to grant political asylum to him," Ricardo Patino said at the end of a long televised statement from the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, where he criticized the U.S. and U.K. governments for failing to protect Assange from political persecution.

"The sun came up on a different world," Assange said, "and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice."

On Sunday, Assange did not address the allegations of sexual crime, or when the diplomatic standoff between Sweden, Ecuador and the U.K. might end.

Assange also called for the release of Bradley Manning, the former U.S. army intelligence analyst accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.

"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," Assange said.

Assange fears that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would immediately be extradited to the United States, which has condemned WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents. Assange and his supporters say the U.S. would charge him with espionage; the U.S. has not said whether or not it would pursue charges against him.

The foreign minister said that Ecuador asked Sweden to promise it would not extradite Assange to the United States, but Sweden refused.

[Related: Ecuador grants Assange asylum; UK vows to 'carry out' extradition]

It's unclear what will happen to Assange now. U.K. authorities say his asylum is a violation of his probation, and he'll be arrested if he tried to leave the embassy.

"We will not allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said at a press conference last week. "Nor is there any legal basis for us to do so. The United Kingdom does not recognize the principle of diplomatic asylum."

On Sunday, Assange said that he heard police enter the embassy the night after he had been granted asylum. "Inside this embassy after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape," Assange said. "But I knew there would be witnesses."

In 2010, Swedish prosecutors in Stockholm issued warrants to question Assange about alleged sex crimes involving a pair of former WikiLeaks volunteers. Assange says the charges are part of an international smear campaign stemming from WikiLeaks' publication of diplomatic cables.

After a brief international manhunt, Assange turned himself in to London police in December 2010. He was granted bail and placed under house arrest. After Assange's appeals to fight his extradition to Sweden were denied, he fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy.

  • China angered by Britain's report on human rights, cancels talks
    China angered by Britain's report on human rights, cancels talks

    BEIJING/LONDON (Reuters) - China on Tuesday condemned Britain for interfering in its domestic affairs, in response to a human rights report, a day after the British government said Beijing had called off human rights talks. Britain listed China as "a country of concern" in its annual human rights report last week, saying it had observed increased curbs on freedom of expression, association and assembly in 2013. It also cited reports of "the forcible suppression of ethnic unrest in Tibet and …

  • Viagra Ice Cream Arouses Controversy
    Viagra Ice Cream Arouses Controversy

    The long list of unnatural food combinations just grew a little bigger: Viagra and Champagne ice cream. The treat — which has the familiar blue hue of the popular erectile dysfunction (ED) drug — is the brainchild of Welsh food inventor Charlie Harry Francis, who created the product for one of his "A-list celebrity clients." Since the drug (known as sildenafil citrate) was approved in 1998, Viagra has aroused the scrutiny of health care professionals and Food and Drug Administration …

  • Study: Samsung phone durable, but iPhone has edge
    Study: Samsung phone durable, but iPhone has edge

    NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone is more durable than last year's model and other leading Android phones, but the iPhone 5s outperformed all of them in part because of its smaller size, a new study finds. …

  • Visa-free Japan trips for Pinoys soon?
    Visa-free Japan trips for Pinoys soon?

    Filipinos who wish to travel to Japan might no longer have to apply for tourist visas under the country’s new tourism plan, a leading Japanese news agency reported. …

  • Miley Cyrus hospitalised
    Miley Cyrus hospitalised

    Miley Cyrus has cancelled another concert after being taken to emergency for severe allergic reactions. …

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • BlackBerry's meltdown sparks start-up boom in Canada's Silicon Valley

    BlackBerry's meltdown sparks start-up boom in Canada's Silicon Valley

    Reuters - 1 hour 51 minutes ago
    BlackBerry's meltdown sparks start-up boom in Canada's Silicon Valley

    By Sayantani Ghosh, Ashutosh Pandey and Euan Rocha (Reuters) - The troubles at BlackBerry Ltd, which fired more than half its staff and lost more than 90 percent of its market value as consumers shunned its smart phones, might have spelled disaster for the company's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario. More than 450 start-ups opened for business in the twin cities of Waterloo and Kitchener last year, more than four times the number begun in 2009, according to Communitech, a local company that …

  • China angered by Britain's report on human rights, cancels talks

    China angered by Britain's report on human rights, cancels talks

    Reuters - Tue, Apr 15, 2014
    China angered by Britain's report on human rights, cancels talks

    BEIJING/LONDON (Reuters) - China on Tuesday condemned Britain for interfering in its domestic affairs, in response to a human rights report, a day after the British government said Beijing had called off human rights talks. Britain listed China as "a country of concern" in its annual human rights report last week, saying it had observed increased curbs on freedom of expression, association and assembly in 2013. It also cited reports of "the forcible suppression of ethnic unrest in Tibet and …

  • Viagra Ice Cream Arouses Controversy

    Viagra Ice Cream Arouses Controversy

    LiveScience.com - Tue, Apr 15, 2014
    Viagra Ice Cream Arouses Controversy

    The long list of unnatural food combinations just grew a little bigger: Viagra and Champagne ice cream. The treat — which has the familiar blue hue of the popular erectile dysfunction (ED) drug — is the brainchild of Welsh food inventor Charlie Harry Francis, who created the product for one of his "A-list celebrity clients." Since the drug (known as sildenafil citrate) was approved in 1998, Viagra has aroused the scrutiny of health care professionals and Food and Drug Administration …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options