WikiLeaks’ Founder Julian Assange, who has this week been granted political asylum by Ecuador (see video below) , has just appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
This is my report on his appearance, after watching the live telecast here in Australia.
In a passionate speech – which had echoes of Argentina’s Eva ‘Evita’ Peron’s famous ‘balcony speech’ – Assange called on President Obama to “do the right thing” by ‘ending the war’ on ‘whistleblowers”.
He also called for the immediate release of Private Bradley Manning, who has passed over 815 days last Wednesday in custody without charge, despite the law being that a person cannot be held in custody without charge for more than 120 days.
“We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America,” Assange said today.
“Will it return to and reaffirm the revolutionary values which it was founded on. Or will it lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens whisper in the dark.”
He went on to say: “I call on President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.”
Assange called for Private Bradley Manning to immediately be released from custody.
“Bradley Manning is a hero and an example to all of us. Bradley Manning must be released,” he said.
Assange also revealed that the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela will hold an emergency meeting in Washington DC this Friday (August 24) to discuss his political asylum and the current threat being made by the UK government not to allow him safe passage out of England.
He also mentioned the jailing of Russian group Pussy Riot stating that “”There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.”
He began the speech by thanking his many supporter especially those who have held a vigil outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
“I am here today because I cannot be there with you today,” he said, gesturing at his supporters in the street below. “But thank you for your resolve, for your generosity of spirit.”
He then went on to reveal that the UK Police had indeed tried to raid the Ecuadorian embassy and capture him.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was made on this embassy and police descended on this embassy, you came out to watch over it.”
Assange said he heard the police “storming” up through the internal fire escapes of the embassy: “If the UK did not throw away the terms of the Vienna convention it was because the world was watching and the world was watching because you were watching.”
“So the next time that somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the embassy of Ecuador. Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.”
This is the full speech by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino when his country granted asylum to Julian Assange.