Assange starts 5th year in London embassy

2016-06-19 22:20
(John Stillwell, AFP)

(John Stillwell, AFP)

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London - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange started his fifth year camped out in the Ecuadoran embassy in London on Sunday, an occasion his supporters were to mark with events celebrating whistleblowers.

Supporters said they were planning to sing and hold speeches and readings in several cities worldwide.

Own free will

Assange was due to speak to his followers on a live video stream from inside the embassy.

The 44-year-old is wanted for questioning over a 2010 rape allegation in Sweden but has been inside Ecuador's UK mission for four years in a bid to avoid extradition.

The anti-secrecy campaigner, who denies the allegation, walked into the embassy of his own free will on June 18 2012, with Britain on the brink of sending him to Stockholm and has not left since.

His lawyers say he is angry that Swedish prosecutors are still maintaining the European arrest warrant against him.

The Australian former computer hacker fears that from Sweden he could be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' release of 500 000 secret military files and could face a long prison sentence there.

WikiLeaks said events were planned for Athens, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Milan, Montevideo, Naples, New York, Quito, Paris and Sarajevo.

Listed participants in Sunday's anniversary events include Patti Smith, Brian Eno, PJ Harvey, Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, Ai Weiwei, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Moore and Ken Loach.

Space station

A hero to supporters and a dangerous egocentric to detractors, Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and has been portrayed in two movies in recent years.

Assange has compared living inside the embassy, which has no garden but is in London's plush Knightsbridge district, near Harrods department store, to life on a space station.

Last month a Stockholm district court maintained a European arrest warrant against Assange, rejecting his lawyers' request to have it lifted.

Read more on:    wikileaks  |  julian asange  |  ecuador  |  uk  |  sweden

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