Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has spoken from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up for two months in a bid to claim political asylum.
“I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against Wikileaks. 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,” said the 41-year-old.
The former hacker is wanted in Sweden in connection with allegations of rape and sexual assault, which he denies. He’s been locked in a legal battle to avoid extradition to Stockholm.
Assange claims he is really wanted by US authorities over his website’s leak of hundreds of thousands of sensitive US diplomatic cables.
Assange’s request for political asylum has caused a diplomatic tussle between Ecuador’s President and London which has threatened to close the embassy if Assange does not give himself up.
His asylum application was approved by Ecuador on Thursday.
Days after his asylum request was accepted by Ecuador, Julian Assange still needs to escape extradition to Sweden.
But the Wikileaks founder claims his real enemy is the US. According to his supporters, his problems really began in 2010, when his website leaked
hundreds of thousands of secret US documents.
Washington and its allies were incensed.
Months later, Assange was arrested in Britain after a worldwide arrest warrant was issued by Sweden.
He was wanted in Stockholm for questioning over rape allegations.
The 41-year old was held in custody at a British jail for 10 days before being released on bail while the Swedish extradition request was considered.
Assange has maintained that he would eventually be sent to the US although Washington has distanced itself from his case.
In November last year, Britain’s High Court upheld Assange’s extradition ruling. An appeal was later rejected by the Supreme Court, which ruled that he must be tried in Sweden.
In June this year, Assange requested political asylum in Ecuador after seeking refuge at their embassy in London. It was granted on Thursday.
But the issue of how to get from the embassy building to the South American country without stepping foot on British soil remains.