Assange gets star welcome at appearance

2012-08-19 22:18

London - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Sunday received a rapturous reception during a carefully staged appearance on the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, where he has taken refuge for two months.

Supporters, who numbered around 200 when Assange took to the microphone shortly after 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT), clapped and chanted through a megaphone outside the embassy in the upmarket Knightsbridge neighbourhood.

Around 150 of the world's press also gathered at the site to hear from the man at the centre of a diplomatic storm between Britain and Ecuador.

As anticipation grew before Assange's appearance, the atmosphere on the street resembled a rock concert as activists cheered while former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon and the leftist intellectual Tariq Ali took to the loudspeaker.

Messages from supporters including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and film-maker Ken Loach were read out to the impatient public.

As the wait dragged on, a WikiLeaks activist on the balcony started a countdown, signaling to the crowd "five minutes" then "one minute" to go.

As the moment arrived, the small street bordering the famous Harrods department store was packed, with police forming a security cordon to contain the crowd.

"Can you hear me?" asked the day's star turn, illiciting loud cheers from his supporters.

The founder of the whistle-blowing website reminded the audience of the "threat" made by Britain that it could storm the embassy. He also thanked activists who maintained a constant vigil outside the building, saying "the world is watching because you are watching!"

Pussy Riot

It was the first time in months that Assange has mobilised such crowds as support waned during his two-year failed judicial challenge to remain in Britain and avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.

Ironically, it seems that it was Britain's threat to invoke a 1987 law to remove Assange from the embassy which has brought the former computer hacker back into the media spotlight.

Ecuadoran supporters outside the embassy chanted "the people united will never be defeated", and were later joined by English sympathisers.

By uniting his cause with leftist anti-capitalist movements such as "Occupy", Assange has successfully expanded his circle of supporters.

He also brought up the case of Pussy Riot, the Russian female punk rock group who saw three band members sentenced this week to two years in prison for singing anti-Vladimir Putin songs in a Moscow cathedral.

However, at no time in Assange's statement, or in those of his supporters, was the Swedish case mentioned, nor did he indicate what his next move might be as he cannot leave the Ecuadoran embassy without risking arrest.

  • tobydt - 2012-08-19 23:13

    Urg, so many misconceptions. Assange isnt the founder of wikileaks. He's one of the founders. Assange isnt a hacker. He might have been one in his youth, but not during his tenure at wikileaks.

      pws69 - 2012-08-19 23:58

      Yup, there is so much misinformation and character assasination going on here, all with the help of the mainstream media.

  • pws69 - 2012-08-19 23:59

    Take a look at these two sites, and come to your own conclusions. Please note that NO CHARGES have been laid against Assange.

  • Visko - 2012-08-20 00:10

    This is the people's chance of getting back at corrupt governments.

  • pws69 - 2012-08-20 00:22

    Wikileaks exposures have not resulted in a single death of anyone named in the reports, or any US citizens. The USA want to charge Assange with Treason. The leaks expose US dishonesty, corruption, murder, and lies. Clinton, Bush (both of them), and Obama are not being charged with anything. Am I the only one that finds this strange?

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-20 08:48

      The US hasn't laid a charge but it would be espionage , not treason . Assange is an Australian .

  • Zubair Hansrod - 2012-08-20 00:40

    Pompous british a**holes. The era of public deception is at an end, yet still the filthy little rats try to bully and deceive.

      gillian.sanderson - 2012-08-20 06:58

      less of the 'filthy little rats' if you please!

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-08-20 02:24

    The sanctimonious US & UK governments deserve all the sh*t Assange gives them !! Why don't the two *sswipes arrest the CEO of HSBC for money laundering activities ultimately funding so called terrorists ??

      dane.herbst.5 - 2012-08-20 07:05

      naught man they would rather bail out their criminal friends on wall street, these countries are owned by the 1% and they are the real owners of the country, its a big club, and we aint in it

  • mark.j.porter.5 - 2012-08-20 04:57

    All this WHO-HA and yet our government is trying to pass an information protection bill... WikiLeaks for the win

  • my10cent - 2012-08-20 07:45

    This is what he gets for speaking the truth? If only there were more fearless people such as him.

  • denis.delaport - 2012-08-20 12:47

    Julian Assange waves his finger at the rest of the world when they misbehave yet he thumbs his nose at the laws of counties in which he resides and relies upon at his convenience. He is a coward, if there is any merit in is "Good" conduct he would trust the legal system in both Sweden the UK and the USA. The arrogant prick deals in anarchy and conspiracy without giving the system a chance enforce its own checks and balances. If there is a case to answer too then he must be man enough to do so. To believe the USA will put everything on hold just for him just proves how absorbed the fool is in his own selfish importance.

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