Assange ready to 'talk' about ending six-month stalemate

Dec 21, 2012

Wikileaks founder opens door to talks, but says 1m more documents are ready for release

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange says "the door is open" to talks to break the deadlock over his extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault. But he insists the work of his whistleblower organisation will continue unabated with the release of a million secret documents over the coming year that will "affect every country in the world".

The 41-year old Australian made a rare speech last night from the first-floor balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up for the past six months.

In a 15-minute address described by The Guardian as "high in rhetoric and low in novelty", he thanked his supporters and "plugged" his bid for a seat in the Australian senate next year, saying, "In Australia, an unelected senator will be replaced by one that is elected."

Assange got the "biggest cheer" from the crowd of about 80 supporters gathered outside the embassy when he praised Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old US Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 for allegedly supplying Wikileaks with its most sensational documents.

Assange said Manning "has maintained his dignity after spending more than 10 per cent of his life in jail, some of that time in a cage, naked and without his glasses."

In his speech, Assange said the Pentagon had claimed recently that the existence of WikiLeaks was an "ongoing crime" and he made reference to threats against his own life. But he insisted "My work will not be cowed", a phrase the New York Times described as "mangled" and likely to resonate with critics who say that Assange has "erased the line between the organisation and himself".

The Australian "refused to give up his self-imposed incarceration" in the embassy, reports Aljazeera, but insisted he was ready to talk to British authorities about ways to end the six-month stalemate. He said: "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".

The authorities stick to their line that if he steps foot outside the Ecuadorian embassy he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden.

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