WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy to ask US President Barack Obama to make his country "do the right thing" and "renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks".
"The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation," he said. "The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute … our staff or our supporters. The US must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.
"There must be no more foolish talk about prosecution of media organisations, be they WikiLeaks or The New York Times."
This was the closest Mr Assange came to asking that the US promise not to seek his extradition should he go to Sweden to face questioning over claims of sexual misconduct. He has not been charged and denies the allegations.
Earlier, one of his spokesmen had said that Mr Assange would consider accepting extradition to Sweden if the US would publicly pledge not to seek his extradition.
Mr Assange and WikiLeaks outraged American authorities with the publication of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables.
The WikiLeaks founder has been sheltering in the Ecuadorean embassy since June because he fears that if the UK sends him to Sweden, the Swedes might hand him over to America and he may face a potential death penalty related to espionage allegations.
Wearing a shirt and tie and sporting a new crew-cut, Mr Assange demanded that the US return to its "revolutionary values" before it lurched over a precipice into which it dragged "all of us": "A dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the threat of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark”.
The US “war on whistleblowers” must end, he said, making a forceful call for the release of Bradley Manning, an American soldier detained over espionage claims for allegedly leaking material to WikiLeaks.
To loud cheers from dozens of supporters - held back by more than 40 police - Mr Assange said the United Nations had found that Mr Manning had endured months of "torturous detention" at Quantico and was about to have his 815th day in jail without trial.
“The regular maximum is 120 days,” Mr Assange said, calling Mr Manning "the world’s foremost political prisoner".
He issued a series of thank yous, including “to the people of the US, the UK, Sweden and Australia who have supported me even when their governments have not”.
He thanked all the South American nations that have rallied behind Ecuador in outrage over a letter that has been seen as a threat by the British Foreign Office to use police to storm the Ecuadorean embassy to retrieve Assange: “Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela”.
Mr Assange also thanked supporters who had come out for a vigil in the dark last Wednesday night when police entered the building that houses the embassy.
"Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up through the building through its internal fire escape". But he said he knew supporters were watching outside.
He finished with, "To my family and to my children, who have been denied their father; forgive me. We will be reunited soon".