Julian Assange tells London supporters he's 'open' to talks over extradition to Sweden


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20, 2012 in London, England.


Peter Macdiarmid

Julian Assange has addressed his supporters from Ecuadorean Embassy in London, saying he's "open" to talks to end his extradition standoff.

The WikiLeaks founder also praised jailed US soldier Bradley Manning, the alleged source of his whistleblower website's most sensational revelations, according to the Associated Press.

Assange, 41, took to the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been been given political asylum while in the UK, on a cold and wet evening, looking "fit and healthy," the AP wrote.

The Australian has been in a standoff with the UK government after being ordered by a court to present himself for extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

His legal team has said that if extradited to Sweden, he faces further prosecution by US authorities over Wikileaks' public of classified material. 

Meanwhile, were he to step outside the Ecuadorean embassy, he would be arrested as he has broken his UK bail conditions.

Reuters cited Assange as vowing to stay where he was while under threat from US authorities and said Wikileaks' work would continue, with the release of over a million more files planned. He said:

"Six months ago — 185 days ago — I entered this building. It has become my home, my office and my refuge," he said from a narrow balcony on the ground floor of the red-brick block in the affluent Knightsbridge area of London. Thanks to the principled stance of the Ecuadorian government and the support of its people, I am safe in this embassy and safe to speak from this embassy."

According to the Guardian, Assange recently said that the Pentagon had claimed the existence of WikiLeaks was an "ongoing crime."

He said late Thursday: 

"While that remains the case and while my government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks, I must remain here 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."

Assange also thanked his supporters, some of whom stood in the street outside the embassy with lighted candles.