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Assange: US may be holding one of 'world's foremost political prisoners'

Speaking from Ecuador's embassy in London, WikiLeak's founder Julian Assange urged the US to release Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is charged with passing US documents to WikiLeaks.  

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures after his statement to the media and supporters on a balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, Sunday. Julian Assange entered the embassy in June in an attempt to gain political asylum to prevent him from being extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sex crimes, which he denies.

Sang Tan/AP

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called on US President Barack Obama to end a so-called "witch hunt" against his secret-spilling website, appearing in public Sunday for the first time since he took refuge two months ago inside Ecuador's Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crimes allegations.

The 41-year-old Australian, who has fought for two years against efforts to send him to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct against two women there, addressed a crowd of more than 200 supporters, reporters, and dozens of British police, as he spoke from the balcony of Ecuador's mission.

Ecuador on Thursday granted Mr. Assange asylum and he remains out of reach of British authorities while he is inside the country's small embassy. Britain insists that if he steps outside, he will be detained and sent to Sweden.

Assange and his supporters claim the Swedish case is merely the opening gambit in a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the US over his work with WikiLeaks — something disputed by both Swedish authorities and the women involved.

"I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks," Assange said as he read aloud a written statement. "The Unites States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters."

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