Julian Assange calls on United States to end Wikileaks "witch-hunt"

  • Julian Assange has called on the United States to bring an end to its "witch-hunt" against Wikileaks, in his first public statement since entering Ecuador's London embassy.

    He said: "I ask President Obama to do the right thing: the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks…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.”

    Assange made his statement from a balcony at the embassy to avoid being detained by British police who are looking to extradite him to Sweden over rape allegations, and thanked Ecuador's president, who has granted him asylum.

    The 41-year-old sought refuge in the embassy in June following several appeals in British courts against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of rape and sexual assault against two women.

    Last week, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, a self-declared enemy of "corrupt" media and U.S. "imperialism", granted Assange political asylum, resulting in a diplomatic row with Britain and Sweden.

    Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to the United States where he believes he would face long-term imprisonment. The United States says it is not involved in the matter.