Protecting WikiLeaks colleagues is top goal: Assange

Protecting WikiLeaks colleagues is top goal: Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, still holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, said his number one goal is to protect colleagues at the controversial website from "any possible attack" by the United States.

In an interview published yesterday by Quito's official Andes government news agency, Assange said he hopes to pressure the United States to "abandon its campaign against us."

"My main task is to continue to keep our people safe from possible attack by the United States," the WikiLeaks founder said.

Assange has been sheltering in the embassy since June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden. Britain has vowed to arrest him if he leaves the embassy.

The 41-year-old Australian sought Quito's protection after he had exhausted legal appeals against extradition to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

Assange fears Sweden eventually will hand him over to the United States, where he says he could face prosecution and even the death penalty over his website's release of a trove of secret US diplomatic and military documents.

Yesterday, Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino renewed his call for talks between London and Quito to resolve the standoff.