London, Aug 19: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Sunday urged the US to end its “witch-hunt” against the whistle-blowing website, BBC reported.
In his first public statement since entering the Ecuador embassy in London, Assange called for the release of Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The 41-year-old Australian national spoke from a balcony at the embassy and thanked Ecuador’s president, who granted him asylum.
He faces extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims, which he denies.
“As Wikileaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies. We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the US. Will it return to and re-affirm the revolutionary values it was founded on,” Assange said.
“Or will it lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark,” he asked.
Ecuador President Rafael Correa has suggested Assange could cooperate with Sweden if an assurance is given that he will not be extradited to a third country.
WikiLeaks has published a mass of US diplomatic cables that have embarrassed several countries, including the US itself.
Assange entered the embassy in Knightsbridge area of London in June after the British Supreme Court dismissed his bid to reopen his appeal against extradition.