Assange mocks US president via video

Assange mocks US president via video

Assange mocks US president via video

Wikileaks founder Assange speaks from the balcony of Ecuador’s embassy in this file photo. Assange claims that Obama seeks to exploit the reforms of the Arab Spring. REUTERS photo

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking via a choppy video feed from his virtual house arrest in London, has lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 26 for supporting freedom of speech in the Middle East while simultaneously “persecuting” his organization for leaking diplomatic cables.

Assange made the comments at a packed event organized by Ecuador on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Assange mocked Obama for defending free speech in the Arab world in an address to the United Nations on Sept. 25, pointing to his own experience as evidence that Obama has “done more to criminalize free speech than any other U.S. president,” Reuters reported.

“It must have come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American teargas out of their eyes (during the Arab Spring) to hear that the U.S. supported change in the Middle East,” Assange said. “It’s time for President Obama to keep his word ... and for the U.S. to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks,” he added.

The Australian activist has sheltered inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, beyond the reach of British police, since June 19, when he sought refuge after he exhausted all legal routes to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sex crimes allegations.

Australian activist also attempted to draw parallels between himself and the instigators of the Arab Spring, claiming that they had all been let down by Obama, according to the Associated Press. “It must come as a surprise to Tunisians for Barack Obama to say the U.S. supported the forces of change in Tunisia,” he said. He claimed that uprisings across the Arab world had been inspired, in part, by his organization’s disclosures about despotic rulers, including Tunisia’s deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Assange, addressed the 150 or so people at the event, claimed that Obama, whose administration he accuses of building a criminal case against WikiLeaks and of harassing its staff, was seeking to exploit the reforms of the Arab Spring during his reelection campaign. “Mohamed Bouazizi did not set himself on fire so that Barack Obama could get reelected,” Assange told the meeting, referring to the 2011 self-immolation by a Tunisian fruit vendor which sparked the uprising that toppled Ben Ali.

Compiled from Reuters and AP stories by the Daily News staff.