Assange mocks Obama over free speech

2012-09-27 07:32
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses a meeting via videolink from Ecuador's London embassy during the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. (Jason DeCrow, AP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses a meeting via videolink from Ecuador's London embassy during the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. (Jason DeCrow, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking via a choppy video feed from his virtual house arrest in London, lashed out at US President Barack Obama on Wednesday for supporting freedom of speech in the Middle East while simultaneously "persecuting" his organisation for leaking diplomatic cables.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy since June to avoid extradition, made the comments at a packed event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Assange mocked Obama for defending free speech in the Arab world in an address to the United Nations on Tuesday, pointing to his own experience as evidence that Obama has "done more to criminalise free speech than any other US president".

"It must have come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American teargas out of their eyes [during the Arab Spring] to hear that the US supported change in the Middle East," Assange said.

"It's time for President Obama to keep his word ... and for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks," he said.

Assange's combative comments, plus statements made by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino and his other allies at the event, suggested no solution is in sight to the diplomatic standoff surrounding the 41-year-old Australian.

Seeking guarantees

British authorities have surrounded the Ecuadorean Embassy and said if Assange sets foot outside, they will arrest him and extradite him to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Assange's lawyers and Ecuador's government fear that could lead in turn to extradition to the United States, where they say he would face "inhumane" prison conditions and even the death penalty.

Assange, who looked to be in good health as he sat at a desk in front of a bookshelf and addressed the 150 or so people at the event, said Britain and Sweden have so far refused to provide guarantees he would not be extradited to the United States.

US and European government sources have countered that the United States has issued no criminal charges or launched any attempts to extradite Assange.

Patino is scheduled to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in New York on Thursday to discuss Assange, and he said there are "multiple paths" that could lead out of the standoff. Yet, in an interview following the UN event, Patino made clear that Ecuador is not willing to cede much ground.

"The ball's in their court right now," Patino said.

Deterioration

Patino held in his hands a mimeographed copy of an 1880 agreement signed between Britain and Ecuador, which he said prohibits extradition in cases such as Assange's. He said he would show the document to Hague on Thursday.

Patino rigorously defended Ecuador's decision to grant political asylum to Assange, expressing disbelief that Britain is "determined" to arrest the former computer hacker even though he said there are no criminal charges against him. "This means you have reason to suspect he's being persecuted," Patino said.

He said Assange is in relatively good spirits but expressed concern his physical and psychological condition could deteriorate.

"I think of myself, how I'd react in that situation, not being able to go outside, being isolated," Patino said. "It's practically like being jailed."


- Click here to read the full transcript of Julian Assange's Address to the UN.
Read more on:    un  |  wikileaks  |  barack obama  |  julian assange  |  ecuador  |  uk  |  us  |  espionage  |  prophet protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.

/News
 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big thing....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.