Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obama lashes out amid calls to free Assange

WASHINGTON: Barack Obama has made his strongest condemnation yet of WikiLeaks, as supporters of Julian Assange demonstrated for his release.

In a call to the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the US President ''expressed his regrets for the deplorable action by WikiLeaks'', the White House said.
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The comments, and similar statements in a call to his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, were Mr Obama's most forceful yet against the website, whose disclosure of a trove of secret US diplomatic cables has won it international condemnation and praise.

Mr Obama's call to Mr Erdogan could be seen as an effort to smooth ruffled feathers in Turkey - a key regional US ally - where officials including the Prime Minister have railed against some of the information divulged by the documents.

Demonstrations took place across Spain on Saturday - including one by hundreds of people outside the British embassy in Madrid - calling for the release from a London jail of Mr Assange, the website's Australian founder, who is awaiting possible extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

There were also demonstrations in London and Amsterdam.

The Spanish website Free WikiLeaks called for demonstrations in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Bogota and Lima. In a manifesto entitled ''For freedom, say no to state terrorism'', it demanded Mr Assange's release and ''restoration of the WikiLeaks domain''.

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