Julian Assange makes his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday -- a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador's move.
Assange called upon the U.S. to end its 'witch hunt' on wikileaks, and to 'end the war on whistleblowers.'
A full transcript of his remarks follows:
“I am here today because I cannot be there with you today. But thank you for coming. Thank you for your resolve and your generosity of spirit.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and the police descended on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
“Inside this embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape. But I knew there would be witnesses. And that is because of you.
“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.
“So, the next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador.
“Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world and a courageous Latin America nation took a stand for justice.
And so, to those brave people. I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum.
“And I also thank the government, and in particular Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, who upheld the Ecuadorian constitution and its notion of universal rights in their consideration of my asylum. And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this constitution.
“And I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of this embassy, whose families live in London and who have shown me the hospitality and kindness despite the threats we all received.