WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange proceeded with his planned speech last Sunday amidst threat from the British government to storm the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought protection. Speaking at the embassy’s balcony, the whistleblower called on governments around the world, especially the United States, to stop persecution of whistleblowers. The speech did not show any indication that the situation is improving for Assange and the British government, which threatened to breach the embassy to arrest him if necessary.
Assange addressed his crowd of supporters in front of the embassy who gathered to hear his 10-minute speech. His remarks basically addressed the people on the scene, and then to the political leaders including US President Barack Obama.
“I am here today because I cannot be there with you today, but thank you for your resolve, for your generosity of spirit,” Assange remarked.
He mentioned how his supporters stood in vigil since last week after the UK government declared to force their way into the Ecuadorian embassy if Assange will not surrender.
Assange said, “As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all of our societies.”
A call for the release United States Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was also mentioned by Assange. Manning is currently imprisoned by the US military after he leaked confidential information to Wikileaks.
“I ask President Obama to do the right thing: the United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks,” urged Assange. He also asked the US government and the FBI to stop current or planned investigation of workers, supporters, and journalists at the New York Times working together with WikiLeaks.
As of this time, no member of WikiLeaks or journalists have been indicted in the United States in any WikiLeaks-related case. However, there are rumors that a grand jury is being convened to look into a WikiLeaks-related issue. A grand jury is necessary to establish that there is enough evidence for the prosecution to move forward. In all cases, evidence presented to a grand jury is not made public.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy since June to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he allegedly assaulted two female staff of WikiLeaks. Assange fears that going to Sweden is a prelude to his eventual extradition to the U.S., where he will most likely face life imprisonment or death.
Sweden denies any plan of extraditing Assange and said that the country has not received any extradition requests for Assange.
A stalemate is currently ongoing as Ecuador granted Assange’s asylum request but the U.K. refusing to grant him passage to Quito because the British government is obligated to comply with court rulings to send him to Stockholm.