Assange makes 1st public appearance in 2 months-A A +A
Monday, August 20, 2012
LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called on President Barack Obama to end a so-called "witch hunt" against his secret-spilling website, appearing in public Sunday for the first time since he took refuge two months ago inside Ecuador's Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crimes allegations.
The 41-year-old Australian, who has fought for two years against efforts to send him to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct against two women, addressed several hundred supporters and reporters as he spoke from the small balcony of Ecuador's mission, watched by dozens of British police.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on Thursday granted Assange asylum and he remains out of reach of British authorities while he is inside the country's embassy. Britain insists that if he steps outside, he will be detained and sent to Sweden, as by law it must meet the obligations of a European arrest warrant.
Assange and his supporters claim the Swedish case is merely the opening gambit in a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the US. over his work with WikiLeaks — something disputed by both Swedish authorities and the women involved.
"I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks," Assange said as he read aloud a written statement. "The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters."
He said that in purportedly targeting WikLeaks, the US risked "dragging us all into a dark, repressive world in which journalists live under fear of prosecution."
The White House declined comment Sunday. (AP)