Julian Assange speaks from embassy balcony

Julian Assange Embassy

The WikiLeaks founder cited several other high-profile freedom-of-speech cases, including Pussy Riot and Bradley Manning.

Sunday afternoon, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has not been seen in public since May 24, gave an address equal parts press conference and Evita from a window of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Had he stepped outside the official boundaries of the embassy, he’d have been arrested in breach of bail. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague incited international ire when he said that even diplomatic immunity wouldn’t protect Assange, who won refuge and asylum recently.

Assange’s speech was addressed primarily to the 150-200 supporters below, as well as the 1.6 million WikiLeaks followers on Twitter.

“I am here because I cannot be closer to you,” said the beleaguered Aussie. “Thank you for being here. Thank you for your resolve, and your generosity of spirit. If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, that is because the world was watching.
The next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador, and how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.

“To my family and to my children who have been denied their father. Forgive me. We will be reunited soon.”

Assange touched on some high-profile freedom of speech cases: Pussy Riot, Nabeel Rajab, and, of course, Bradley Manning.

“If Bradley Manning really did as he is accused, he is a hero, an example to us all, and one of the world´s foremost political prisoners. Bradley Manning must be released.”

He concluded:

“There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.”

As he finished his speech, a supporter released 150 balloons in the colors of the Ecuadorean flag, and Assange lingered at the window to watch them fly away.

Photo via Alisa20059/Tumblr

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy is an Ottawa-based cybersecurity journalist and founding editor of the Cryptosphere. She has a keen interest in WikiLeaks and web culture, and her bylines have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, Serious Eats, and elsewhere.