Wikileaks' Assange hails 'victory' after Sweden drops rape case
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hailed an "important victory" after Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape investigation against him, in comments made during a rare public appearance at Ecuador's embassy in London on Friday.
"Today is an important victory for me," he said, giving a clenched fist salute as he emerged onto the balcony of the embassy where he has been holed up for nearly five years to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Assange said his lawyers had contacted British authorities in the hope of starting a "dialogue" over his future, after the police said they would be "obliged" to execute an arrest warrant against him if he left the embassy.
Assange would be arrested for breaching bail conditions by failing to hand himself in for extradition to Sweden in 2012, and instead fleeing to the embassy where he obtained political asylum.
"The road is far from over. The war, the proper war, is just commencing," a pale-looking Assange said told a crowd of reporters and a handful of supporters brandishing placards assembled under the balcony.
He promised that WikiLeaks would continue its "fight" for government transparency and digital rights, while also voicing bitterness toward the Swedish allegations against him, which date back to 2010.
"In prison, under house arrest and almost five years here in this embassy without sunlight!" he said.
"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me. That is not something I can forgive. It is not something I can forget," he said.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Chelsea Manning, the US army private who was sentenced to 35 years in jail for leaking classified US documents, was released from prison.
In July 2010, Manning - then a male soldier known as Bradley - was arrested over the release of a huge collection of more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents via WikiLeaks, one of the largest leaks of classified information in US history.