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Obama exploiting Arab Spring for political gain: Assange

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London: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has accused US President Barack Obama of seeking to exploit the Arab Spring revolutions for political gain, reported guardian.co.uk.

Addressing a gathering of diplomats at the UN through a satellite videolink, Assange focused on Obama's address to the UN General Assembly Tuesday in which the president gave a staunch defence of freedom of speech and spoke of American support for the revolutions in the Arab world.

Assange said that it was 'audacious' for the American government "to take credit for the last two years of progress", given past US support for the ousted Arab dictators. Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street peddler whose suicide sparked the revolt, "did not set himself on fire so that Barack Obama could get re-elected", said Assange, adding that it was "disrepect to the dead to claim that the United States supported the forces of change."

Going on to claim that it was the leak of classified US diplomatic cables to Wikileaks by Bradley Manning, an US soldier, that "went on to help trigger the Arab Spring", Assange spoke of the treatment meted to Manning in a US prison. While referring to Obama's UN defence of the freedom of expression, Assange recalled how Manning was held in isolation, stripped and left naked for hours in his cell.

"The time for words has run out. It is time to cease the persecution of our people and our alleged sources. It is time to join the force of change not in fine words but in fine deeds," Assange was quoted as saying.

IANS

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