Julian Assange may still be holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be staying out of the spotlight.
The WikiLeaks founder lashed out at President Obama on Wednesday for supporting freedom in the Middle East at the United Nations General Assembly while simultaneously “persecuting” Assange’s organization for leaking U.S. diplomatic cables.
“I’m free in the most basic and important sense: I’m free to speak my mind. This freedom exists because the nation of Ecuador has granted me asylum,” Assange said in a video address from the embassy, where he was granted political asylum in order to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes.
He then told the story of Pfc. Bradley Manning, a soldier who has been detained by the U.S. government since 2010 for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, which the whistleblower organization distributed to the media. Assange called Manning a “patriot” and said he was “degraded and abused by his own government.”
“He believed in the values that founded an independent United States,” Assange said of Manning.
Assange also referred to the United States as “a national regime of obfuscation.”
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama said:
“Efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities...Given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.”
The U.S. government has said it has not issued criminal charges or attempted to extradite Assange, Reuters reports. However, the Sydney Morning Herald found that the U.S. military classified Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States and that any military personnel who contacts them risks being charged with “communicating with the enemy.”
“It’s time for President Obama to keep his word ... and for the U.S. to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks,” Assange said.
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