Assange makes rare public appearance
Fri, 21 Dec 2012 9:37a.m.
By Raphael Satter
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange given a rare public address, praising jailed US soldier Bradley Manning in an address delivered from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
Addressing supporters on a cold and wet English evening, the 41-year-old Australian looked fit and healthy despite half a year spent in trapped inside the small apartment he shares with Ecuador's diplomatic staff.
He gave no hint that he would end the standoff, which has seen him spend six months as a fugitive from European justice, saying he was holed up at the embassy for fear of the US investigation into his activities.
"While this immoral investigation continues, and while the Australian government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks, I must remain here," he said.
While the US Justice Department has launched an investigation into WikiLeaks' spectacular disclosures of US secrets, Assange is currently wanted by police over allegations of sexual assault stemming from a trip to Sweden in mid-2010.
Many WikiLeaks supporters have suggested that the allegations are a ploy to extradite Assange, first to Sweden and then to the US. The Swedish government and Assange's alleged victims deny it, saying they are simply seeking justice.
Assange's address name-checked a series of jailed figures, including Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and alleged Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammond. But the biggest cheers came when he praised Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks' most earth-shaking revelations.
He said the 25-year-old "has maintained his dignity after spending more than 10 percent of his life in jail, some of that time in a cage, naked and without his glasses."
Manning, who was arrested in 2010, currently faces trial on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. Testimony in pre-trial hearings has recently focused on the conditions under which he was detained - including times at which he was forced to strip naked and at least one incident in which he says he was made to stand at attention while nude.
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21/12/2012 10:25:37 a.m.
Hope he holds out - the US will use any dirty tricks - witness our local keystone cops interactions with Dotcom on their behalf.
21/12/2012 10:17:19 a.m.
Anyone who believes Assanges line that he is fighting against the sexual assault charges extradition to stop the US from getting Sweden to extradite him is a fool. Sweden have never been close to the US, whereas the UK, where Assange currently is, is an extremly close ally of the US. If the US had wanted to extradite him im sure the UK would be far more willing to accomdate the US than Sweden. It's not like the UK hasn't handed dozens of "terror" suspects and other POW's over to the US. I can't see why the UK governmnt would refuse its closest ally the request. Sweden on the other hand have an extradition treaty with the US that EXCLUDES crimes covered in the Espionaige and homeland security laws, which is what Assange would be charged under. Also, under the European law which Assangew ould be extradited to Sweden both the UK and Sweden would have to agree to extradite him to the US.... and only after legal procedings in Sweden had finished. This is all a smokescreen to protect an egomaniac from being lawfully charged for sexual crimes. Its such a rediculous scenario. But im sure many of Assange's fans love complex and ludicrous scenarios (911 was an inside job, the moon landing was faked, The Illuminati control the world, AND WE ARE RULED BY LIZARDS! etc etc) Love live Wikileaks, the organisation does good work despite having a cretin like Assanage using it as a vehicle to fuel his own ego.
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