Earlier this year WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador. On Thursday he delivered a Christmas address from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been staying. He said "... despite the extra-judicial banking blockade, which circles WikiLeaks like the Cuban embargo, despite an unprecedented criminal investigation and a campaign to damage and destroy my organization, 2012 has been a huge year."
Assange announced that plans are in the works to release up to one million new secret government documents in 2013 that would affect "Every country in this world."
Despite recent health concerns he looked in good shape and was clearly buoyed by the supporters who rallied to hear him speak. When he appeared on the balcony he raised a fist in recognition of those who had gathered in solidarity: "What a sight for sore eyes. People ask what gives me hope. The answer is right here."
In the course of the address Assange expressed appreciation for the continued support of Ecuador and its people: "Six months ago I entered this building. It has become my home, my office and my refuge. Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorean government and the support of its people, I am safe in this embassy and safe to speak from this embassy."
He said he was prepared to negotiate with "... anyone who wishes to use standard procedures to speak to me or guarantee my safe passage."
Assange noted that even though his freedom has been curtailed he is still able to speak "... unlike 232 journalists who are in jail tonight." He mentioned the names of some of those being persecuted - Godfried Svartholm the Pirate Bay co-founder, Jeremy Hammond accused of hacking into Stratfor, human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, in Bahrain.
He also spoke about the plight of Bradley Manning, the US soldier arrested on suspicion of passing classified material to WikiLeaks. In reference to the abuse Manning has suffered while in custody, Assange said that he [Manning] had “... maintained his dignity after spending more than 10% of this life in jail, some of that time in a cage, naked and without his glasses.”
“I salute those journalists and publications that have covered what has and continues to happen to these people, and to journalists and publications that continue publishing the truth in the face of persecution, prosecution and threat – who take journalism and publishing seriously.”
Earlier this month, French Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon paid a visit to Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Mélenchon said Assange was a "prisoner" of a government that lets dictators walk free. According to Paris Depeches, Mélenchon said of the British government: "You freed the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, you let him go in 2000, you may well let Julian Assange [go].”
Jean-Luc Melenchon and Assange
Following the meeting, in company with Ecuadorian ambassador Ana Alban, Mélenchon told reporters: “I am a friend of the Citizens' Revolution in Ecuador, and so I feel a duty to come in contact with my friends, express gratitude and solidarity."
Link to the full text of the Assange address posted on WikiLeaks - here.