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Assange: WikiLeaks aided Arab Spring

Sept. 26, 2012 at 11:58 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, addressing the United Nations by video, said the United States is "audacious" for taking credit on gains in the Middle East.

Speaking Wednesday via videolink from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Assange told diplomats gathered for the General Debate at the 67th U.N. General Assembly in New York President Obama seeks to exploit the Arab Spring for political gain, accusing Obama of vocally supporting freedom while failing to act in support of opposition groups, British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Assange said the Tunisian street peddler whose suicide in January marked the start of the revolutions across the Arab world, "did not set himself on fire so that Barack Obama could get re-elected," adding it was "disrespect to the dead to claim that the United States supported the forces of change."

Assange said classified U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks "went on to help trigger the Arab Spring."

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy for the past three months to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

The Guardian said Assange appeared "tired and unwell" in the video, sniffing frequently and sporting dark rings under his eyes.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, also present, said he would repeat his demand that Assange be granted safe passage to Ecuador when he speaks with U.K. Foreign Minister William Hague Thursday.

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