WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up since 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden. His appearance follows a U.N. panel ruling that he has been arbitrarily detained and should be awarded compensation. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) To the cheers of his supporters, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday (February 5) where he has been holed up since 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden. His rare public appearance comes one day after a U.N. panel ruled Assange had been arbitrarily detained and should be awarded compensation. Assange, a computer hacker who enraged the United States by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, had earlier on Friday called on Britain and Sweden to let him freely leave the embassy. The 44-year-old denies allegations of a 2010 rape in Sweden, saying the accusation is a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a criminal investigation into the activities of WikiLeaks is still open. Both Britain and Sweden denied that Assange was being deprived of freedom, noting he had entered the embassy voluntarily. Britain said it could contest the decision and that Assange would be arrested if he left the embassy. Assange, an Australian, appealed to the U.N. panel, whose decision is not binding, saying he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador. It ruled in his favor, although the decision was not unanimous. Three of the five members on the panel supported a decision in Assange's favor, with one dissenter and one recusing herself. The decision in his favour marks the latest twist in a tumultuous journey for Assange since he incensed Washington with leaks that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Vladimir Putin to the Saudi royal family.