Assange Will Speak to UN From Ecuadorian Embassy in London
Wikileaks founder will ‘debate the legitimacy and applicability’ of his asylum in Ecuador
Ashley Fantz CNN
September 26, 2012(CNN) -- The man responsible for airing the dirty laundry of governments around the world is going to ask for their sympathies on Wednesday.
WikiLeaks' creator Julian Assange is expected to address leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York via satellite.
Assange -- who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June -- will "debate the legitimacy and applicability" of his request for asylum in Ecuador "from a legal and a human rights perspective," according to RT, the Russian television channel that will transmit his live message at 6 p.m. ET
Assange has a talk show on the state-funded Russian channel.
For much of 2011 until June, Assange had been under house arrest in Britain while he filed appeal after appeal against his extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden. Sweden has said it wants to question Assange on allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman there.
Assange has not been charged with a crime.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino is expected to explain on Wednesday's video conference why his country granted asylum to the WikiLeaks founder, according to noted American attorney Baher Azmy.
Azmy, the legal director of New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, will moderate the conference. The center is part of the U.S. legal team representing Assange.
"Our goal is to educate the public and members of the U.N. about the legal jeopardy Mr. Assange is facing," Azmy said.
Ecuador granted Assange asylum in August, but he cannot leave its embassy in London. Otherwise he'll likely be arrested by British authorities. The embassy is a sovereign space that authorities from other countries cannot encroach. In August a London policeman was photographed carrying an arrest plan for Assange.
Assange has claimed that the sex allegations are false, a ruse to get him to Sweden which he believes will, in turn, extradite him to the United States.
Several U.S. officials have made it clear they feel Assange violated the law by publishing in 2010 and 2011 a trove of classified war documents and diplomatic cables.
"We want to explain the jeopardy Assange is facing if he is transferred to the United States," Azmy said.
"If he were, we have information that he and other WikiLeaks employees would likely be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917," he said. "We don't know the details of the potential indictment, but we do know there has been an ongoing, large-scale investigation [in the United States] of Assange."
Assange isn't worried about the Swedish criminal process, Azmy said, and the WikiLeaks frontman wants to make that clear.
"We're asking that if Assange is transferred to Sweden, then the courts will agree not to transfer him to the U.S.," Azmy said. "Based on how Bradley Manning has been treated, we have every reason to be concerned that Assange would be subject to brutal and inhumane treatment."
U.S. soldier Bradley Manning has been accused of leaking the documents and is facing numerous charges in a court-martial that could result in life in prison. Manning's lawyer has said his client has been treated badly while in military custody. In March, the U.N. special rapporteur issued a report finding that Manning may have been treated inhumanely.
"This is Assange's chance to call out again what he feels is really going on," said Cherif Bassiouni, a United Nations war crimes expert who has experience with cases across Latin America and Europe.
In addition to making his case for asylum, Assange will also likely defend WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents in 2010 and 2011 as "a service to human kind," Bassiouni said.
The first WikiLeaks leak, published in late summer 2010, was called the "Afghan War Diary."
London's Guardian, the New York Times and Germany's Der Spiegel were given advance copies of the material WikiLeaks leaked in order to do their own reporting on the thousands of military reports within that cache. The New York Times' take on what those documents conveyed is summed up in its headline: "View is bleaker than official portrayal of war in Afghanistan."
The Guardian headlined that "the leak exposes real war," and reported, "US intelligence records reveal civilian killings, 'friendly fire' deaths and shadowy special forces."
Bassiouni said he thinks Assange wants to remind world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly about the material WikiLeaks has published.
He also "wants to show the aggressive and neo-imperialistic policies of the United States -- that they are after him, to prosecute him for crimes and are in connivance with the United Kingdom and with Sweden," Bassiouni said.
Earlier this year, Assange predicted his situation will all be over in a year.
Patino floated an option last week to allow Assange to move to the Ecuadoran Embassy in Sweden. British authorities have yet to respond.