World News‎ > ‎

Assange to speak from Ecuador embassy in row over his future

posted 19 Aug 2012, 06:40 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Aug 2012, 06:42 ]

The lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Assange is in a fighting spirit and continues to defend liberty, justice and human rights.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 19, 2012) (REUTERS) - Julian Assange's lawyer told reporters in London on Sunday (August 19) his client maintained a fighting spirit as he continues to fight for his future.

Baltazar Garzon, a Spanish jurist and prominent human rights investigator who heads Assange's legal team, said Assange " thankful to the people of Ecuador and especially to President (Rafael) Correa for granting him asylum."

"He has always fought for truth and justice and has defended human rights and continues to do so. He demands that Wikileaks and also his own rights be respected. Julian Assange has instructed his lawyers to carry out legal action in order to protect the right of Wikileaks, Julian himself and all those currently being investigated," he added.

Assange's attempt to escape extradition has touched off a diplomatic tussle between Britain and Ecuador, which accused London of threatening to raid its embassy and casting the dispute as an arrogant European power treating a Latin American nation like a colony.

Britain said the dispute is about its legal obligations and Assange should be extradited to Sweden. But Assange said he fears he will eventually be sent to the United States although Washington has so far kept its distance from the dispute.

Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks founder prepared to weigh into a standoff between Britain and Ecuador over his future by speaking from a balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy where he holed up to avoid arrest by police deployed in force outside.

Ecuador has granted political asylum to the former computer hacker who incensed the United States and its allies by using his WikiLeaks website to leak hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables in 2010.

WikiLeaks had said Assange would make a statement outside the embassy, stirring speculation he would be arrested by British police arrayed in force outside the red-brick legation in the opulent Knightsbridge district of London.

But a workman inside the embassy could be seen on Sunday morning prising the hinges off a door leading to a small balcony on the corner of the embassy, signalling Assange would speak from that perch to keep himself safe from arrest.