The founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange has urged the United States to end its witch hunt against Wikileaks. In a speech on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London Assange delivered his first public statement since entering the embassy.
In June of this year Assange took refuge in the Ecuador’s London embassy against extradition to the US and Sweden. Assange’s Wikileaks website published thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables that embarrassed many countries including the United States. Assange also faces trial in Sweden over sexual assault claims made by two ex-Wikileaks volunteers. The United Kingdom – where Assange gave himself up – ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face the alleged assault charges. Assange then sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy which he was granted this month.
As a result of all Assange’s actions he has stirred up a number of diplomatic storms, the latest between the UK and Ecuador. Ecuador is concerned, as are 23 members of the Organization of American States (OAS), that the UK could potentially lift the embassy’s diplomatic status giving the police the right to enter the building because Assange has breached his terms of bails according to the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.
Foreign ministers from the OAS will meet next Friday in Washington D.C. to discuss the stalemate between the UK and Ecuador; the U.S. opposed the meeting. Meantime a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) has said it backs Ecuador “in the face of the threat” to its London embassy.
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza is reported to have said, “The issue that concerns us is the inviolability of diplomatic missions of all members of this organization, something that is of interest to all of us,” he added.
Why Ecuador? Many believe that it was only after lengthy discussion between Assange and Ecuador’s President Correa that Assange made his choice. For its own part, the Ecuadorian government has been criticized nationally and internationally for its understanding of democracy; this support for Assange may be Correa’s demonstration of support for freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and freedom of the press.