Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wikileaks protests in Spain over Julian Assange arrest

Protests have taken place across Spain calling for the release of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is facing extradition from the UK to Sweden for alleged sexual offences. 

Hundreds of people gathered outside the British embassy in Madrid calling for him to be freed.
Wikileaks is publishing insights from hundreds of thousands of sensitive US diplomatic and military documents.

The demonstrators believe Mr Assange's detention is politically motivated.
The whistle-blowing website has angered and embarrassed governments around the world through its publication in recent weeks of classified US diplomatic cables.
Sensitive issue
While supporters have mounted cyber-protests, Saturday's protests were some of the first street demonstrations in support of Wikileaks.
Wearing Julian Assange face masks, the crowd in Madrid shouted for his freedom, outside the vast glass tower that houses the British embassy, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Madrid.

Many of the demonstrators were angry at some of the revelations in the cables, our correspondent says.
These include the suggestion Spain came under pressure to stop a criminal investigation into the killing of Jose Couso, a Spanish cameraman who died when American soldiers fired a tank round into his hotel in Baghdad.
The Free Wikileaks website, which organised the demonstrations, said protests were also planned for other Spanish cities, including Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.

It called for the restoration of Wikileaks' internet domain, which was cut off by Amazon after it began publishing the diplomatic cables two weeks ago.
And it demanded that Visa and MasterCard restore credit card services because, it said, no one had proven Mr Assange's guilt.

Our correspondent says the issue of freedom of speech is sensitive for Spaniards, who only emerged from four decades of authoritarian rule in the 1970s.


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