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Calling today’s development an “important victory”, Mr Assange, 45, who has been claiming political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to escape extradition to the United States where he faces accusations of espionage, slammed the “terrible injustice” that led to his incarceration, and the European Union for creating the situation that allowed it to develop.
Speaking to journalists from the balcony, Mr Assange said: “Seven years without charge, while my children grew up without me. That is not something I can forgive, it is not something I can forget.
“The inevitable enquiry into what has occurred in this moment of terrible injustice is something that I hope will be just about me and this situation. Because the reality is, detention and extradition without charge has become a feature of the European Union. A feature that has been exploited, yes, in my case, for political reasons, but in other cases has subjected many people to terrible injustice”.
Criticising the developing practice of detention without trial and the pan-European arrest warrant, to which the United Kingdom is no longer party, Mr Assange continued: “In Sweden, indefinite detention is policy. There is no time limited someone can be detained without charge.
“This is now how we expect a civilised state to behave. Similarly, extradition without charge is not something we expect from the rule of law in the United Kingdom. It is a measure that was introduced as part of the European Union system to turn the EU into a federation”.
Acknowledging that he still faces arrest by the UK for breaking bail and failing to surrender himself to court while in the embassy, he continued: “The UK has said it will arrest me regardless.
“The United States, CIA director Pompeo and the US attorney general have said I and other Wikileaks staff have no rights, no first amendment rights, and our arrest is a priority. That’s not acceptable… My legal staff have contacted the UK authorities and we have to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward.
“To some extent, the UK has been exploited by the processes from the European Union where it agreed to extradite people without charge. A forced position the UK has been put into and the first part of that is over”.
Mr Assange said despite the threats against him the work of Wikileaks would continue, and the pace of leaks published targeting the United States’ CIA organisation would intensify. He also hailed the release of “Chelsea Manning”, a U.S. Army soldier and intelligence analyst who was incarcerated at a military prison for leaking cables to Wikileaks.
Assange called the release a “very important victory”, remarking “we and others have managed to have him released 28 years early from his sentence”.