Assange: 'Door is open' to end London stand-off
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the 'door is open' for talks to end his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he holed up six months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden.PT1M3S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bqpt 620 349 December 21, 2012
LONDON: The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the "door is open" for talks to break the deadlock over his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden.
He has made a rare public appearance on a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to mark the six-month anniversary of his sudden arrival at the building.
While my government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks, I must remain here.
He has since been granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government but has remained inside the embassy. The Australian will be arrested if he steps outside as he has broken his bail conditions.
Julian Assange ... 'I must remain here.' Photo: AFP
He thanked his supporters, who stood in the street outside, some carrying lighted candles.
He said: "Six months ago I entered this building. It has become my home, my office and my refuge. Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorian government and the support of its people, I am safe in this embassy and safe to speak from this embassy."
He said he had been sustained by the solidarity of his supporters and people around the world supporting WikiLeaks and freedom of the press.
"While my freedom is limited, I am still able to work and communicate, unlike the 232 journalists who are in jail tonight."
The 41-year-old Australian spoke of his secret-leaking website’s ‘‘achievements’’ in 2012 and plans for 2013, including a further one million documents ready for release.
‘‘In Australia, an unelected senator will be replaced by one that is elected,’’ Mr Assange said of his recent announcement he would stand for a Senate seat at the 2013 election.
Mr Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, which he denies. He fears being sent to the United States to be questioned over his whistle-blowing website.
He said the Pentagon claimed recently that the existence of WikiLeaks was an "ongoing crime".
"While that remains the case and while my government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks, I must remain here," he said.
"However, the door is open, and the door has always been open, for anyone who wishes to use standard procedures to speak to me or guarantee my safe passage."
TV crews from across the world filmed the speech.
There was an added police presence outside the embassy. Some of Mr Assange's friends and supporters listened from inside the embassy, which had a Christmas tree in the reception area and many cards dotted around.
Mr Assange made special mention of Bradley Manning, the American soldier arrested over the leaking of military information.
The ambassador, Ana Alban, was also inside the embassy. She issued a statement reconfirming Ecuador's support for Mr Assange: ‘‘At a time of year when people come closer together, Ecuador reaffirms the solidarity that our country gave six months ago to a person who was being persecuted for thinking and expressing themselves freely.
‘‘Now is a moment for reflection and togetherness. On behalf of my country, I reiterate our support for Julian Assange.
‘‘Julian has become a guest in this house that we all have learned to appreciate.‘‘We understand the situation is extremely difficult. It is not a desirable situation for any human being. However, each of the people who work on this diplomatic mission offer our care and support, which is what every citizen of Ecuador and Latin America would do in conditions where a human is affected.
‘‘Often it is necessary, as we have done in our beloved country, to stand up and face those enemies of democracy that far from seeking unity and peace among the citizens of the world, instead seek to ruin socialist peoples and dominate on behalf of small groups of people.‘
‘I reiterate the message of peace, thought and reflection our government wants to offer all those who, like Julian, fight every day to preserve freedoms in a world that has entered a period of change for the good of the people.’’
Press Association, AAP