Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Speaking to a crowd of supporters from the balcony of Ecuador's U.K. Embassy last Sunday, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, demanded that the United States end its "war on whistleblowers" --- a war that, Assange said, not only threatens WikiLeaks but "the freedom of expression and the health of our societies." The U.S., he said, must choose between returning to the "revolutionary values" upon which it was founded, or "lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world under which journalists fall silent under fear of prosecution."
Assange credited citizen activism for the fact that Britain did not carry out its unlawful threat last week to "storm" Ecuador's Embassy, stating:
So the next time somebody tells you it is pointless to defend those rights that 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.
Assange called upon the U.S. to "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," he declared. "The U.S. Administration's war on whistleblowers must end."
The controversial Assange went on to call for the release of "one of the world's foremost political prisoners, Bradley Manning," noting that the former Army Intelligence Analyst had just "spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days."
Manning is the U.S. Army Private alleged to have released classified material to Assange's WikiLeaks. Legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, during a late 2010 interview with Brad Friedman, described Manning as a "patriot" for his release of the documents.
The full video of Assange's 8/19/12 statement from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been granted asylum by the Latin American country, follows below...