London, Aug 19 (IBNS): WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday called on the U.S. government to end a "witch hunt" against his whistleblowing website, as he made his first public appearance since taking refuge inside Ecuador's embassy in London two months ago.
The 41-year-old Australian also thanked the government of Ecuador for granting him political asylum as he seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual misconduct allegations.
"There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organisation, be it Wikileaks or the New York Times. The U.S. war on whistleblowers must end,” he said, addressing a crowd of more than 200 people from the balcony of Ecuador’s mission.
“I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The Unites States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters,” he said.
Assange praised the “courage” shown by the Latin American nation’s President Rafael Correa for granting him asylum.
“I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum,” he said.
Assange also called for the release of Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier who has been charged with aiding the enemy by passing the secret files to WikiLeaks and is awaiting trial, describing him as one of the world's foremost political prisoners.
“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,” he said.
Assange further said, "I thank the the staff and supporters of Wikileaks. I also thank the people of US, UK, Sweden for supporting me despite their government being against me."
"To my family and children, we will be reunited soon," he added.
Defying warnings from United Kingdom, Ecuador on Thursday granted asylum to Assange who since June has taken refuge in the London embassy premises of the South American country.
In offering asylum to Assange, Ecuador said it responded to the fears of the WikiLeaks founder that his human rights would be violated.