London, United Kingdom. For the first time in years Julian Assange stepped out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to address reporters on the occasion of rape charges being dropped by Sweden.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has signalled he will remain inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London despite the Swedish authorities suddenly dropping a seven-year investigation against him. UK law enforcement say their warrant for arrest remains active, as Assange broke conditions previously set by flight to the embassy to avoid prosecution.
The WikiLeaks founder made a rare appearance on the balcony of the central London building to hail the decision by Sweden’s director of public prosecutions as an “important victory”. Assange gave a clenched fist salute to his supporters, and scores of journalists and TV crews, before maintaining that a “legal conflict” with the United States and the UK is just starting.
The Australian activist, who has lived inside the embassy for almost five years, said the “road is far from over”, adding it was “extremely regretful” that he was still being threatened with arrest if he leaves the embassy. The United States has long sought Assange under Patriot Act provisions and his role in the publishing of secret US documents.
Assange said he had spent seven years either under house arrest or living inside the embassy, without charge, as he faced sex-related allegations in Sweden, which he has always denied.
He had missed seeing his children growing up. “That is not something I can forgive, or forget,” he said, maintaining that he had been the victim of a “terrible injustice”. Detention and extradition without charge had become a feature of the EU, but it was not something expected from the rule of law in the UK, he said.
He promised that WikiLeaks will continue distributing material about the activities of the CIA in the United States, and will “accelerate” its publications.“We have today won an important victory, but the road is far from over. The proper war is just commencing.”
Assange said the UK had refused to confirm or deny whether there is a warrant from the US for his extradition, insisting he was happy to talk to the US Justice Department.
He thanked the government of Ecuador for granting him political asylum despite “intense pressure”, as well as his legal team and others who had stood by him. Assange returned into the building which has been his home for almost five years, without answering questions.