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Assange calls on Obama to stop WikiLeaks 'witch-hunt'

August 19, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures after his statement to the media and supporters on a balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London. -AP Photo

LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called on US President Barack Obama to stop its “witch-hunt” against his whistleblowing website, as he gave a speech from Ecuador's embassy in London on Sunday.

“I ask President Obama to do the right thing, the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks,” said Assange, making his first public statement since he was granted political asylum by Ecuador.

Speaking from a balcony at the embassy in an upmarket district of London, 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,” Assange told journalists and a handful of his supporters gathered outside the embassy.

The 41-year-old Australian walked into the embassy two months ago after exhausting all legal avenues in Britain in his fight against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes.

Assange claims the accusations against him are politically motivated and insists that the United States wants to put him on trial for divulging state secrets.

WikiLeaks enraged Washington by releasing video of a US attack in Iraq, as well as tens of thousands of classified US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.