It’s official – Julian Assange has been granted asylum by the South American country of Ecuador. Unfortunately for Assange, it’s looks like the U.K. government isn’t going to let him go. He’s been locked up inside the Ecuadorian embassy for almost two months now. The Wikileaks founder made a public appearance yesterday afternoon to address his being granted asylum and what he views as a “witch hunt” against whistleblowers.
Assange made his speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy because he would be arrested on sight if he were step out of the building. He even referenced as much in the beginning of his prepared speech by saying, “I speak to you from up here, because I cannot be down there.”
From there, Assange praised his supporters who came out to protest the police presence in front of the embassy on Wednesday night. He claims that the police would have raided the embassy if it wasn’t for his supporters Tweeting and live streaming the events to the world.
He also praised Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, for taking “a stand for justice.” He also praised Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino for upholding “the Ecuadorian constitution and its notion of universal rights.”
After the numerous thanks were out of the way, Assange directly addressed his situation and the situation of others around the world who are being persecuted for being whistleblowers. He said that a threat against Wikileaks is a threat against “the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies.”
He also said that this moment is integral for the United States and its continued prosperity. He questioned if the U.S. would “return to and reaffirm the values, the revolutionary values it was founded on” or would the country “lurch off the precipice dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world.”
At that point, Assange directly addressed President Obama. He demanded that the administration “renounce its witch-hunts against Wikileaks” and “dissolve the FBI investigation.” He demands that the country must also “vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”
He also came out in support of Whistleblowers and said that “the U.S. administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.” He called upon the U.S. government to pardon all the whistleblowers that have been detained during the current administration and that they must be compensated for their troubles.
Finally, he made a special note to single out Private Bradley Manning who has been in detention for 815 days. He was arrested on charges of leaking confidential military documents to Wikileaks. He said that Manning is “a hero and an example to us all and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners.”
As of this writing, Assange is still inside the Ecuadorian embassy. It remains to be seen if he will get to leave the country or not. There will be meetings among Latin and South American countries this week on the topic of Assange. For its part, the U.K. is not backing down on its threat to extradite Assange to Sweden.
We’ll continue following this story and will update if anything happens. For now, here’s the video of Assange’s speech from yesterday:[h/t: The Independent]