London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Sunday appeared in public for the first time since he took refuge inside Ecuador's embassy in London two months ago. Beginning his address from the embassy's balcony, Assange said, "I am here today because I cannot be there with you today."
"US poses a threat to WikiLeaks and freedom of speech," Assange said as the crowd cheered for him. He said that he has asked US President Barack Obama "to do the right thing".
Assange said the US government should not prosecute his supporters or any media organisation. "There must be no foolish thought of prosecuting any media organisations," he said.
The WikiLeaks founder, who appeared wearing a blue shirt and a red tie, said, "The United States must stop its witchhunt against WikiLeaks".
Assange also called for the release of Bradley Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks source, describing him as one of the world's foremost political prisoners. "The US war on whistleblowers must end," he said.
The 41-year-old Australian, who sought shelter inside the Latin American nation's mission on June 19, was on Thursday granted asylum by Ecuador as he seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual misconduct allegations.
Assange on Sunday thanked Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa for the "courage he has shown," in granting him asylum.
Britain cannot detain Assange while he remains inside the embassy, but will not offer him safe passage to Ecuador.