Text of speech given by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, from Ecuador embassy balcony in London on August 19, 2012
I am here today because I cannot be there with you today, but thank you for coming. Thank you for your resolve, your generosity and spirit.
On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, and police descended on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
Inside the embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape. But I knew that there would be witnesses and that is because of you.
If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching and the world was watching because you were watching.
The next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the embassy of Ecuador. Remind them how in the morning the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.
And so, to those brave people, I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum. And I also thank the government, and the particular Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, who have upheld the Ecuadorian Constitution and its notion of universal citizenship in their consideration of my asylum
And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this Constitution. And I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of the embassy, whose families live in London, and who have been showing me hospitality and kindness despite the threats we’ve all received.
This Friday there will be an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of Latin America in Washington, DC, to address this very situation. And so I am grateful to those people and governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela and to all other Latin American countries who have come out to defend the right to asylum.
To the people of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia, who have supported me in strength, even when their governments have not. And to those wiser heads in government who are still fighting for justice. Your day will come.
To the staff, supporters and sources of WikiLeaks, whose courage and commitment and loyalty has seen no equal.
To my family and to my children, who have been denied their father. Forgive me. We will be reunited soon.
As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression, and the health of our societies. We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.
Will it return to and reaffirm the revolutionary values it was founded on? 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?
I say it must turn back.
I ask President Obama to do the right thing.
The United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.
The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.
The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.
The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.
There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or be it the New York Times.
The US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.
Thomas Drake, and William Binney, and John Kiriakou and the other heroic US whistleblowers must — they must be pardoned and compensated for the hardships they’ve endured as servants of the public record.
And the Army Private who remains in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who was found by the United Nations to have endured months of torturous detention in Quantico, Virginia, and who has yet — after two years in prison — to see a trial—He must be released. Bradley Manning must be released. If Bradley Manning did as he accused, he is a hero and an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners. Bradley Manning must be released.
On Wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.
On Thursday, my friend, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, was sentenced to 3 years for a tweet.
On Friday, a Russian band [Pussy Riot] was sentenced to 2 years in jail for a political performance.
There is unity in the oppression.
There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.
Video of speech here.
For complete coverage of Julian Assange’s struggle for asylum and safe passage to Ecuador, go here.