Dec. 20 - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the ''door is open'' for talks to end his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he holed up six months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden for alleged sex crimes. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION
STORY: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made a balcony appearance on Thursday (December 20) at the Ecuador Embassy in London where he is holed up to avoid extradition to Sweden for alleged sex crimes.
The Christmas address to his supporters and crowds of press was to mark six months of his self-imposed incarceration at the embassy.
Assange, 41, making his first public appearance for months, vowed to stay where he was while he remained under threat from U.S. authorities and said his website's work would continue with the release of over a million more files.
"WikiLeaks has already over a million documents prepared to be released. Documents that affect every country in the world. Every country in this world. And in Australia an un-elected senator will be replaced by one that is elected," he told media from around the globe and 200 cheering supporters.
He also said he would "never be cowed" and made reference to reports he may run for office as an Australian senator next year. A post which if he won he could appoint a proxy.
"My work will not be cowed, but while this immoral investigation continues and while the Australian government will not defend the journalism and publishing of WikiLeaks I must remain here. However, the door is open and the door has always been open for anyone who wishes to speak to me. Like you I have not been charged with a crime," he said.
Assange talked about freedom of information being the cornerstone of democracy and highlighted the plight of other journalists currently imprisoned.
His supporters, many holding candles and posters, cheered as he arrived on the balcony and when he went back inside holding his fist up high.
The speech was Assange's second balcony appearance since he sought refuge in the embassy in June to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault, having exhausted all the legal tools at his disposal.
Assange says he fears extradition to Sweden would ultimately lead to him being sent to the United States, which is furious that WikiLeaks has leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables.
Ecuador, whose President Rafael Correa is a self-declared enemy of "corrupt" media and U.S. "imperialism", granted him political asylum in August.
The Foreign Office says Britain has a legal obligation to extradite him and he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.
Assange said he would stay where he was while the threat against him and WikiLeaks from the U.S. authorities remained and the Australian government failed to defend him.
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