'Our time has come' Assange tells rally

04 February 2011 | 06:28:28 PM | Source: AAP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the era of the internet generation has arrived and he'll continue to expose "abusive organisations".

Speaking in a recorded message to a public meeting in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Assange said can't wait to be back in his home town and called on Australians concerned about his plight to take action.

He compared WikiLeaks' push for more transparent governance to the civil rights movement of the 1950s, the peace movement of the 1960s, feminism movements and the environmental movement.

"For the internet generation this is our challenge and this is our time," Mr Assange said.

"We support a cause that is no more radical a proposition than that the citizenry has a right to scrutinise the state.

"The state has asserted its authority by surveilling, monitoring and regimenting all of us, all the while hiding behind cloaks of security and opaqueness," Mr Assange told the free speech rally.

"Surely it was only a matter of time before citizens pushed back and we asserted our rights," he said.

Mr Assange has been living in a mansion in England owned by a WikiLeaks supporter while he awaits an extradition hearing to decide if he will be sent to Sweden to face rape charges.

The full hearing is due to begin on Monday, and in his video address Mr Assange appeared calm next to a window overlooking a meadow as he read a prepared statement.

Mr Assange, wearing a black suit and tie, appeared unshaven during the seven-and-a-half minute monologue.

"With your help and support we will make our way through this storm and continue to publish and hold powerful and abusive organisations to account," he said.

Mr Assange shot to world prominence after the whistleblowing website he founded published thousands of secret US cables.

There have since been numerous calls for him to be assassinated, including one from Tom Flanagan, a former adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and from rightwing commentators on America's Fox News.

He called on Australians to insist that attacks against his staff and organisation stop, that the federal government "come clean" on its interactions with foreign powers in relation to WikiLeaks, and that he be allowed to return home.

"We have been deeply moved by the concern that Australians have shown for us, but I ask that you turn your concern into action," he said.

He said that through its silence, the Australian government has condoned calls to have him and his staff killed.