Julian Assange made his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Addressing the hundreds of people gathered outside the embassy, Assange thanked them for their support, claiming it was their resolve and presence that stopped British police storming the building.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and police desceneded on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the worlds eyes with you. Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape,” Assange said.
“But I knew thered be witnesses. And that was because of you.”
The WikiLieaks founder thanked President Correa “for the courage he has shown” in granting him asylum, and to all the nations and individuals who have shown him support.
Assange also addressed the US government and President Obama, calling for the “witch hunt against WikiLeaks” to end.
“The United States must pledge before the world will not pursue journalists for shining light on the secret crimes of the powerful. The US administration’s war against whistleblowers must end.”
He also spoke of Bradley Manning, the Army Private who has been charged with 22 criminal counts over his alleged role in providing Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks site with sensitive documents that were then distributed. Manning has been imprisoned for more than 800 days and has yet to stand trial before a military tribunal.
“On Wednesday Bradley spent his 815th day of detention w/o trial. The legal maximum is 120 days,” Assange told the crowds gathered outside the embassy.
“If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and invaluable to all of us. Bradley Manning must be released”.
Assange went on to mention Nabeel Rajab, a Bahraini human rights activist, who was “sentenced to 3 years in jail for a tweet”.
Rajab tweeted critical comments about the Bahraini Prime Minister, calling for him to step down. Before his arrest, Rajab appeared as a guest on episode four of ‘The Assange Show’ on RT, hosted by the WikiLeaks founder. In the interview, he criticized the US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as US refusals to take action during the Bahraini protests and the wider Arab Spring.
Assange also spoke of Pussy Riot, a Russian female punk band, three members of which have just been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral.
“There is unity in the oppression,” Assange said. “There must be absolute unity and determination in the response”
The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday – a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move.