#G378* - WIKILEAKS Julian ASSAGE PROVIDES CLARITY & TELLS IT LIKE IT IS!
DOUG SAUNDERSPublished Sunday, Dec. 05, 2010 8:55PM ESTLast updated Sunday, Dec. 05, 2010 9:02PM EST
At the centre of a tightening web of death threats, sex-crime accusationsthreatened to unleash a "thermonuclear device" of completely unexpurgatedgovernment files if he is forced to appear before authorities.
Mr. Assange, the 39-year-old Australian Internet activist whose onlinedocument-leaking service has embarrassed the United States and othercountries by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic andmilitary documents, has referred to the huge, unfiltered document as his"insurance policy."
The 1.3-gigabyte file, distributed through file-sharing services this summerand protected with an unbreakable 256-bit encryption key, contains fullversions of all the U.S. documents received by WikiLeaks to date - includingthose that have been withheld from publication or have had names and detailsremoved in order to protect the lives of spies, sources and soldiers.
Silent for the better part of a week as WikiLeaks made daily headlinesaround the globe, Mr. Assange has been increasingly vocal in recent days,defending his actions, decrying his critics and defying world leaders.
Mr. Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens warned that if Mr. Assange were to bebrought to trial on rape accusations he faces in Sweden, or for treasoncharges that have been suggested by U.S. politicians, he would release theencryption key. The tens of thousands of people who have downloaded the filewould instantly have access to the names, addresses and details contained inthe file.
WikiLeaks, Mr. Stephens said, has "been subject to cyberattacks andcensorship around the world and they need to protect themselves ... This iswhat they believe to be a thermonuclear device in the information age."
He uttered that threat as his client was believed to be in hiding inBritain, with prominent U.S. and Saudi officials calling for Mr. Assange'sarrest or death, justice officials attempting to shut down his websites inmany countries, and the Swedish justice system seeking him for questioningon the sexual-crime allegations.
Mr. Assange has denied the accusation, made by two women who hosted a partyfor him in Stockholm in August. He has acknowledged having had consensualsex with the complainants. Reports say the sex became non-consensual overdisagreements about condom use.
This weekend he refused to respond to a European arrest warrant issued bySweden, and an Interpol alert related to the accusation. His lawyers arguedthat the accusations amount to a smear campaign and suggested that U.S.officials might be behind them.
The Swedish prosecutor took the unusual step of going before the news mediato say she has received no pressure or communication of any sort frominternational or political authorities and that the charges are unrelated tothe leaks scandal.
"This investigation has proceeded perfectly normally without any politicalpressure of any kind," prosecutor Marianne Ny told the Agence France-Pressewire service. "It is completely independent."
A number of high-profile U.S. figures, including Republicans Sarah Palin andNewt Gingrich, have called for the prosecution of Mr. Assange.
"Julian Assange is engaged in warfare," Mr. Gingrich said, echoing similarwords spoken by Ms. Palin and others last week. "Information terrorism,which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism. And Julian Assange isengaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant andWikiLeaks should be closed down permanently and decisively."
However, U.S. charges against Mr. Assange are unlikely: He is not a U.S.citizen and, because he did not steal the documents himself, but onlyparticipated in their publication, he would likely be protected under theU.S. Constitution's free-speech provisions.
The documents were reportedly stolen from a U.S. military installation byBradley Manning, a former private in the U.S. Army who copied years ofsecret Pentagon and State Department communiqués and passed them to Mr.Assange, who in turn brokered deals with worldwide media outlets to publishdetails from them. Those details, despite some censorship by Mr. Assange andthe publishers, have shaken relations between the United States and Gulfcountries, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr. Manning is already being held in solitary confinement, and will likelyface treason and espionage charges. This has not stopped a growing chorus ofU.S. and foreign figures from pushing for punishment for Mr. Assange.
U.S. newspapers reported that a team of Justice Department and Pentagoninvestigators is looking into the possibility of charges against Mr. Assangeunder the Espionage Act. Attorney-General Eric Holder said "this is notsabre-rattling" when asked by reporters about the possibility of charges.Justice officials in Australia, where Mr. Assange was born, are reportedlyalso looking into a prosecution.
That did not stop more figures from suggesting that Mr. Assange should beharmed or killed - a circle that includes Canadian Tom Flanagan, a formercampaign manager to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told a TV interviewerlast week that Mr. Assange should be assassinated (he later apologized forthe remark).
In an online interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Assange said Mr.Flanagan "should be charged with incitement to commit murder."
He also told reporters Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, HillaryClinton, should resign if they are shown to have authorized an operation tospy on United Nations top officials - one of the many secrets revealed inthe leaked State Department cables.
"Obama must answer what he knew about this illegal order and when. If herefuses to answer or there is evidence he approved of these actions, he mustresign," the WikiLeaks founder told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
He suggested, not for the first time, that he believes his document servicehas had a profound effect on world history: "I believe geopolitics will beseparated into pre- and post-Cablegate phases."
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