WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has received a rapturous reception during a carefully staged appearance on the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, where he has taken refuge for two months.
Supporters, who numbered around 200 when Assange took to the microphone shortly after 2pm on Sunday (2300 AEST), clapped and chanted through a megaphone outside the embassy in the upmarket Knightsbridge neighbourhood.
Around 150 of the world's press also gathered at the site to hear from the man at the centre of a diplomatic storm between Britain and Ecuador.
As anticipation grew before Assange's appearance, the atmosphere on the street resembled a rock concert as activists cheered while former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon and the leftist intellectual Tariq Ali took to the loudspeaker.
"I have spoken to Julian Assange and I can tell you he is in fighting spirits and he is thankful to the people of Ecuador and especially to the president for granting asylum," said Garzon.
"Julian Assange has always fought for truth and justice and has defended human rights and continues to do so," he added.
Messages from supporters including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and film-maker Ken Loach were read out to the impatient public.
As the wait dragged on, a WikiLeaks activist on the balcony started a countdown, signalling to the crowd "five minutes" then "one minute" to go.
When the moment arrived, the small street bordering the famous Harrods department store was packed, with police forming a security cordon to contain the crowd.
"Can you hear me?" asked the day's star turn, eliciting loud cheers from his supporters.
The founder of the whistle-blowing website reminded the audience of the "threat" made by Britain that it could storm the embassy. He also thanked activists who maintained a constant vigil outside the building, saying "the world is watching because you are watching!"
It was the first time in months that Assange has mobilised such crowds as support waned during his two-year failed judicial challenge to remain in Britain and avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
Ironically, it seems that it was Britain's threat to invoke a 1987 law to remove Assange from the embassy which has brought the former computer hacker back into the media spotlight.
Ecuadoran supporters outside the embassy chanted "the people united will never be defeated", and were later joined by English sympathisers.
At no time in Assange's statement, or in those of his supporters, was his Swedish sexual assault case mentioned, nor did he indicate what his next move might be as he cannot leave the Ecuadoran embassy without risking arrest.