Julian Assange makes public appearance at London embassy

19:56 20 December 2012

Julian Assange made his long-awaited appearance tonight. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Julian Assange made his long-awaited appearance tonight. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made a rare public appearance on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London tonight.

Wikileaks supporters gathered outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. Picture: Ian West/PA WireWikileaks supporters gathered outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Speaking for 15 minutes on the six-month anniversary of his arrival in the building he said he had been sustained by the solidarity of his supporters and people around the world supporting WikiLeaks and “freedom of the press”.

He has since been granted political asylum by the Ecuador government but has remained inside the embassy.

The Australian will be arrested if he steps outside as he has broken his bail conditions.

He thanked his supporters, who stood in the street outside, some carrying lighted candles.

He said: “Six months ago I entered this building. It has become my home, my office and my refuge. Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorian government and the support of its people, I am safe in this embassy and safe to speak from this embassy.”

He said

“While my freedom is limited, I am still able to work and communicate, unlike the 232 journalists who are in jail tonight.”

Mr Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, which he denies.

He fears being sent to the United States to be questioned over his whistle-blowing website.

He said tonight that the Pentagon claimed recently that the existence of WikiLeaks was an “ongoing crime”.

There was an added police presence outside the embassy.

Mr Assange started his 15-minute speech to a crowd of more than 250 outside the embassy by saying that people asked him what gave him hope.

“The answer is right here,” he said to loud cheers from his supporters, who chanted, in Spanish: “Julian, the people are with you.”

Mr Assange said WikiLeaks had more than a million documents being prepared to be released, affecting every country in the world, prompting more cheers from the crowds outside.

“In 2013, we will continue to stand up to bullies.

“The power of people standing up and resisting together terrifies corrupt, undemocratic power. So much so that ordinary people here in the West are now the enemy of governments, to be watched, controlled and impoverished.”

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