From the balcony on the first floor of the Ecuadorian embassy in London Julian Assange called on the United States to “renounce it’s witch hunt against Wikileaks.” As he spoke, dozens of UK Police stood waiting to arrest him for breach of bail if he stepped foot outside.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in a press conference Thursday August 16th that Ecuador had come to it’s decision to provide asylum for Assange after not receiving a requested guarantee from Sweden that Assange wouldn’t be extradited to the United States. Patino said “they rejected any commitment in this sense.”
In his address Assange thanked his supporters, Ecuador and its President for backing him and described alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning as one of the world’s foremost political prisoners. Video above is an excerpt of the speech shot by Luminant Media.
Protester and supporter of Pussy Riot. Photo courtesy Sean Comiskey, Eyes on Rights.
Three members of the punk feminist band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 were sentenced to two years in prison for their anti-Putin performance in February inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral. The Guardian reports that protests outside the courts included Chess Grand Master Gary Kasparov and opposition politician, Sergei Udaltsov.
John Dalhuisen Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme, said “This trial is another example of the Kremlin’s attempts to discourage and delegitimise dissent. It is likely to backfire.”
Human Rights Watch has also condemned the verdict saying the conviction was a “blow to free expression.”