WikiLeaks planned to release over one million new secret documents that would affect ``every country in the world’’, its founder Julian Assange announced in a defiant speech from the balcony of Ecuadorian embassy here as his supporters shouted, ``We love you Julian’’ and sang Christmas carols.
It was his second ``balcony’’ address since he sought refuge there six months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. And he made clear he had no intention of leaving the cramped mission which he described as ``my home, my office and my refuge’’ until ``this immoral investigation continues’’.
"Six months ago I entered this building. It has become my home, my office and my refuge. Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorean government and the support of its people, I am safe in this embassy and safe to speak from this embassy," he said.
Saluting his supporters with a raised fist, Mr Assange said: ``Good evening, London. What a sight for sore eyes. People ask what gives me hope. The answer is right here.’’
In a fighting 15-minute address, he said WikiLeaks would ``not be cowed’’.
``Next year will be equally busy. WikiLeaks has over a million documents being prepared to be released—documents that affect every country in the world, every country in this world,’’ he said.
A large police force stood guard outside the embassy while his supporters, some of whom carried candles, waved banners saying: ``Don’t shoot the messenger’’, and ``Free Assange’’.
Referring to the impasse over his extradition, Mr Assange said that as long as long as the American government sought to prosecute him and his native country, Australia, refused to defend his journalism, he would remain in the embassy. But, he said, he was open to negotiations.
"However, the door is open, and the door has always been open, for anyone who wishes to use standard procedures to speak to me or guarantee my safe passage," he said.
Mr Assange has been given asylum by Ecuador but is prevented by the British Government from leaving the country arguing that it is under a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden. He will be arrested the minute he steps out of the embassy. Police say he broke his bail conditions when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy without informing them.
Mr Assange claims the case against him is politically motivated and fears that Sweden would hand him over to Americans who have threatened to prosecute him for publishing confidential diplomatic cables.
He said the Pentagon had described WikiLeaks as an ``ongoing crime’’.
Paying tribute to journalists faced harassment because of their work, he said: "It is from the revelation of the truth that all else follows... our civilisation is only as strong as its ideas are true."
``True democracy is not at the White House, It’s not in Canberra…It’s people armed with true against lies, from Tahrir Square to London.’’
In a statement, the Ecuadorian ambassador Ana Alban said her government ``reaffirms the solidarity that our country gave six months ago to a person who was being persecuted for thinking and expressing themselves freely.’’
"Julian has become a guest in this house that we all have learned to appreciate," she said.