Julian Assange speaks from Ecuadorian embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (left) talks with his legal adviser Balthasar Garcon (right) inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Credit: Press Association

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spoken for the first time since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange spoke to the media and his supporters from the balcony of the embassy this afternoon.

During the statement, Assange thanked the nation of Ecuador for taking a "stand for justice" in giving him political asylum.

He appeared on the balcony of the South American country's embassy where he has been taking refuge for two months as he seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning on sexual assault allegations.

The Australian also thanked other helpful South American nations and supporters around the world, plus his family including his children "who have been denied their father".He said: "Forgive me, we will be reunited soon."

He also called on the United States to "end its witch hunt" against the WikiLeaks organisation.

Mr Assange has been inside Ecuador's London embassy for two months today.

The controversial figure, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, entered the building seeking asylum on June 19 and has been inside since.

Last week it was announced he had been granted political asylum, sparking a major diplomatic row between Ecuador, Sweden and the Government, which insists it is legally obliged to hand Mr Assange over.

Balthasar Garcon speaking to media outside the Ecuadorian embassy. Credit: ITV News/Alex Forrest

Earlier in the day, Assange's legal representative Balthasar Garcon emerged from the embassy and said: "I have spoken to Julian Assange and I can tell you he is in fighting spirits and he is thankful to the people of Ecuador and especially to the president for granting asylum.

"Julian Assange has always fought for truth and justice and has defended human rights and continues to do so.

"He demands that WikiLeaks and his own rights be respected.

"Julian Assange has instructed his lawyers to carry out a legal action in order to protect the rights of WikiLeaks, Julian himself and all those currently being investigated."

The media outside the Ecuadorian embassy. Credit: ITV News/Alex Forrest

Foreign Secretary William Hague has made it clear that Mr Assange will not be allowed safe passage out of the country.

Mr Assange denies the allegations he faces in Sweden and fears being transferred to America if he travels to contest them.

He enraged the US government in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published tranches of secret US diplomatic cables.Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information, is being held at an American military base.

He has been charged with transferring classified data and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source and faces up to 52 years in jail.During his statement