Assange urges end to U.S. 'war on whistle-blowers' (pictures)
The WikiLeaks founder, granted political asylum by Ecuador, makes a public appearance in London to decry what he sees as injustices done to human rights and constitutional principles.
|Julian Assange speaks to the public from a window of the Ecuadorian embassy in London today, where he urged that the U.S. "renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks," the whistle-blowing organization he founded.
Said Assange (see full transcript here): "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. The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful. There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or the New York Times. The U.S. administration’s war on whistle-blowers must end."
|U.K. police stand outside the Ecuadorian embassy, where Assange has been holed up since June. Just days ago, Assange was granted political asylum by the Latin American nation. Key questions to ponder now: How can Assange get out of the embassy to travel to Ecuador without being seized by authorities while he's on British soil? Would the U.K. find a way to revoke the embassy's status long enough to enter it and take Assange into custody?|
|British police wait casually outside the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, London, to arrest Wikileaks founder Assange should he attempt to escape.|
|Protesters from around the U.K. have descended on the embassy -- a stone's throw away from London's Harrods store -- donning Anonymous-style motifs, featuring a fanciful likeness of Guy Fawkes, in a vivid reference to a key figure of potential political upheaval from English history. The hacktivist group has engaged in a number of politically motivated activities in recent month.|
|One protester holds a placard saying: "Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime," in reference to a number of WikiLeaks releases that exposed diplomatic, military, and industrial secrets.|
|Another placard bears Assange's face, thanking the whistleblowing organization for "giving us the truth."|
|Anonymous is thought to be planning a protest in Trafalgar Square, London, close to the home of the British prime minister, in response to the U.K.'s suggestion that it may enter the Ecuadorian embassy.|
|The protesters remained peaceful and chanted slogans. The Metropolitan Police said it had not arrested any protesters or members of the public before, during, or after today's statement by the WikiLeaks founder.|
|Another placard is covered in red ink and written "by a Swedish woman," in response to the charges made by two Swedish women of alleged sexual crimes committed by Assange in 2010. A British court has said that Assange must be extradited from the U.K. to Sweden.|
|One police officer talks to a protester wearing an Anonymous mask, an image first seen in the "V for Vendetta" comics and subsequent film in the early-2000s.|
|This protest placard suggests that Assange is "under siege" from the U.K. authorities, who said Wednesday that they could lift the diplomatic status from the embassy to remove the WikiLeaks founder from the building.|
|Members of the media mark out where their cameras should go in order to get the best view of Assange, who emerged just after 2 p.m. BST (6 a.m. PT) in central London.|
|The head of Assange's legal team, Baltazar Garzon, speaks to the media a half-hour ahead of Assange's statement.|
|Assange emerges from the embassy on a balcony and gives a thumbs-up to the world's media and to protesters gathering on the street below.|
|The Wikileaks founder pauses for a moment for silence before reading out his statement.|
|Assange's statement was cautious to avoid political rhetoric as this would have breached his asylum conditions with the Ecuadorian government. However, the statement was very strongly worded in opposition to the U.S. government's tactics and actions.|
|A U.K. police officer stands in front of the embassy building as Assange gives his statement.|