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Americas

Assange addresses French left-wing rally by phone link from London

media Julian Assange speaks from a balcony at Ecuador's embassy in London REUTERS/Olivia Harris

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed a left-wing rally in France by phone-link on Friday. French hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon challenged François Hollande’s government to back his attempts to escape possible extradition to the US.

“France has been an important country for WikiLeaks,” Assange told the crowd at a public meeting of the Left Front in Saint Martin d’Hères, near Grenoble in the French Alps.

Part of the French press had backed the whistleblowing site, he said.

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Major French daily Le Monde was part of the group of newspapers, along with Britain’s The Guardian and the New York Times, that published the vast stash of confidential cables that WikiLeaks made public.

The call was cut off several times and Assange said that there were power cuts at Ecuador’s London embassy, where he is holed up to avoid an extradition order to Sweden where he faces questioning over rape accusations.

He has offered to go to Sweden if it gives an undertaking not to pass him on to the US.

Assange claimed that there was a rise in the spirit of independence in Latin America that has led to the Organisation of American States backing Ecuador’s right to give Assange refuge.

The meeting was Assange’s second public appearance in the two months he has been staying in the Ecuadorean embassy. Last Sunday he appeared on a balcony to address supporters and TV cameras.

The Left Front’s former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, called on France’s Socialist government to back Ecuador’s initiative and reminded the UK that it had allowed Chilean former dictator Augusto Pinochet to leave its territory and escape an international arrest warrant in 2000.

“We say to the English government: You freed Pinochet, you let him leave, you can Julian Assange leave,” he said.

London police seem to imagine that Assange may be smuggled out of the country in a diplomatic bag.

A handwritten document snapped by press photographers in a police officer's hand declared, "Action required - Assange to be arrested under all circumstances. He comes out with dip. immun., as dip. bag. in dip. bag (right to life) in dip. vehicle - ARRESTED."

Assange will resume his broadcasts on Russian television as soon as his legal troubles are over, the editor in chief of RT (Russia Today), Margarita Simonian, told the daily Moskovskii Komsomolets.

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