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Julian Assange asks US to end ‘Wiki witch-hunt’

world Updated: Aug 20, 2012 02:29 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Assange asks US to end ‘Wiki witch-hunt’

Making a dramatic appearance on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Sunday accused the British police of attempting to storm the mission last week in a bid to spirit him away to Sweden in defiance of the Vienna Convention.

In his first statement in two months, he also asked the US government to call off a "witch-hunt" against the whistleblowing website that has angered Washington by publishing secret diplomatic cables.

The 41-year-old Australian, who faces allegations of rape and sexual harassment in Sweden, fears Stockholm may extradite him to the US, where, in his view, he would face persecution and long-term imprisonment.

Speaking from within the London mission to avoid arrest by the British police, who have surrounded the building, Assange said, "The United States war on whistleblowers must end."

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, addresses his supporters from the Ecuadorian embassy, London. (AP Photo)

"On Wednesday night after a threat was sent to this embassy and police descended on this building you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it," Assange told hundreds of free-speech campaigners and journalists at Knightsbridge, where the embassy is located on the first floor of a block of luxury flats.

"Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape. If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Convention… it was because the world was watching…"

The convention protects foreign embassies and diplomats from host governments.

But, in what has been widely seen as a threat, British officials last week spoke of a 1987 law that allows them to de-recognise a diplomatic building.

Foreign minister William Hague has denied the allegation.

Assange jumped bail on June 19 to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy following which Quito offered him political asylum.