Julian Assange Rallies Crowd At Occupy London, Is Quickly Shepherded Away By Police

Julian Assange Rallies Crowd At Occupy London, Police Quickly Shepherded Away

Today is a landmark day in the Occupy Wall Street movement– organizers have called for similar rallies across the world in solidarity with their cause, and images from Rome to Vienna to, yes, back to Wall Street are hitting the web in real time. But it was in London where the crowds received a special celebrity greeting– from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who took a respite from his house arrest to express solidarity with the movement.

Judging from reports on the ground, Assange was greeted by the crowd warmly– perhaps a bit too much so— and his words were taken so seriously as to be repeated verbatim by the crowd. Reminding them how long he had been under house arrest, Assange delivered an impromptu rabble-rousing speech before the chanting crowd, instructing the crowd, “I ask that all of you demand that foreign bank accounts be opened up and made transparent, the same way that I today have been forced to be made transparent.” He was later escorted by police to a separate corner of the protests further away from the crowd.

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While being the most prominent appearance by Assange in some time, it is not the first in a long time. While the Wikileaks cables released in September were largely ignored, Assange has appeared at protests in London in the past month, and this appearance coincides with a blistering Saturday morning column in the Sydney Morning Herald— cheekily titled “I May be a Chauvinist Pig, But I’m No Rapist”– in which he explains why he initially worked with The Guardian to release his leaked files and how the relationship fell apart. This comes months after a controversy in which an unauthorized autobiography of the Wikileaks founder was set to hit shelves. As he reminded the crowd, Assange has been under house arrest upwards of 300 days with no trial in sight.

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It is to be noted that the media seemed to take to his appearance with a mild curiosity, images and video of him being disseminated rapidly through Twitter and making the rounds in news. There seems to be little speculation as to why or how Assange escaped house arrest enough to be there– though it appears to be perfectly legal– which is particularly notable given how quickly similarly dubious speculation arose in New York with the appearance of the not-under-house-arrest activist James O’Keefe, whose spokesperson clarified was legally allowed to cross the Hudson River into Manhattan for his latest undercover report. That said, as noted before, this was not the first London protest Assange attended even this month, and he has stated that as long as he returns to his home before curfew he is legally entitled to his presence there.

Watch video of Assange walking around and speaking to the Occupy London protesters both via Youtube below:

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