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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breathed fresh air for the first time in two months Sunday, when he stepped foot on a balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, wearing a red tie and blue shirt and gave a short, impassioned speech.
Assange thanked his supporters, saying they were the reason why British police were not able to get to him earlier in the week when they allegedly tried to breach the embassy grounds. As a large group of supporters cheered him on, Assange thanked Latin American governments—specifically naming Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela—for their support, saying foreign ministers from the region will be meeting to discuss his plight.
"I ask President Obama to do the right thing, the United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks," Assange said. He also called for the release of Pfc. Braley Manning, the soldier who has been charged with releasing secret files to WikiLeaks, points out the Associated Press.
Assange likened WikiLeaks to any other news outlet, saying that attacking the site was the same as targeting freedom of expression. “There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or the New York Times,” he said. “The U.S. war on whistle blowers must end.” He also referred to the jailing of members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. "There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response," he added, according to the Guardian.
Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault and took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London when he came to the end of the road on possible legal appeals against extradition. Although Ecuador officially granted Assange diplomatic asylum on Thursday, saying it wanted to shield the Australian from any attempts by the United States to prosecute him, Britain has made it clear it won’t grant him safe passage out of embassy grounds.
Earlier, his lawyer Baltasar Garzon said that Assange is willing to answer questions from Swedish prosecutors as long as he is given certain guarantees. Although Assange claims to fear that Sweden will extradite him to the United States, where he could theoretically face the death penalty, Swedish officials have repeatedly noted the country does not extradite anyone who could risk facing the death penalty, points out CNN.