Assange threatens to release ‘poison pill’ if arrested or killed
There is a new threat from the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange will release a “poison pill” that contains a “deluge” of secret information if he is killed, arrested or his website is permanently shut down, Daily Mail reports.
“Due to recent attacks on our infrastructure, we’ve decided to make sure everyone can reach our content. As part of this process we’re releasing archived copy of all files we ever released,” WikiLeaks said in a message on its site.
WikiLeaks says it has another 250,000 cables it plans to gradually release over coming months — if it can.
Anticipating the US attempts to block it though, WikiLeaks has taken the precaution of posting a big, 1.4-gigabyte file encrypted with a 256-digit key said to be unbreakable.
Titled “insurance.aes256″, the file was big enough to contain all the US cables said to be in WikiLeaks’s possession.
The encryption makes it unreadable until the key is supplied — at which time all its contents would be available to those who downloaded it from torrent-feeding sites such as ThePirateBay.org.
“It’s a ticking time bomb with a remote fuse,” one expert told NBC News. “So this bomb can go off the second that they release the key and the key will spread around the internet in a matter of seconds.”
Appearing on the BBC, Assange’s lawyer defended the move. “They need to protect themselves,” Mark Stephens said. “This is what they believe to be a thermo-nuclear device effectively in the electronic age.”
WikiLeaks has been under constant cyber attacks since it began releasing the secret US diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks’ DNS host, EveryDNS.com, killed the domain last week, according to an update posted to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account.
The host cited “mass attacks,” the whistleblower organization said.
It’s not the first technical snag WikiLeaks has encountered in recent days. The site was down entirely most of last Wednesday after its host, Amazon.com, abandoned WikiLeaks as well, forcing them to move back to a mirror in Sweden. Service on the domain has been sporadic since then.
The site is now only accessible via an IP address: 126.96.36.199. Mirrors pointing to the address have popped up at WikiLeaks.de, WikiLeaks.fl, WikiLeaks.nl.
Even as WikiLeaks servers remain online, some organizations are blocking access to the site.
The White House told government agencies to take measures to prevent employees without proper authorization from accessing the secret cables.
It reminded them that “each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information” and said that a public release of classified documents did not mean they had been declassified.
“Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog or on websites) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a message to all federal agencies obtained by AFP.
The US Library of Congress was one institution that blocked staff and visitors from accessing WikiLeaks, citing ‘potential malicious content’.
In a post on the Library of Congress blog, communications director Matt Raymond confirmed that access to Wikileaks was being blocked and rejected accusations of censorship.
“The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information,” Raymond said.
“In other words, the site is being blocked not out of censorship, but because providing the information that is there is illegal.
Assange has also been under threat of arrest by Swedish authorities for sex crimes.
A lawyer who recently represented Julian Assange said the sex assault investigation into the WikiLeaks founder is based on claims he didn’t use condoms during sex with two Swedish women.
James D. Catlin, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, says in an article published Thursday that Sweden’s justice system is destined to become “the laughingstock of the world” for investigating rape charges in two cases where women complained that Assange had had sex with them without using a condom.
Assange is thought to be hiding out in the UK but his lawyers said that Scotland Yard would not act on an arrest warrant because it was invalid.
Attorney Mark Stephens said that Scotland Yard has not moved to arrest Assange in the UK where he is thought to be hiding out because the original arrest warrant was invalid.
“There is no arrest warrant against him. There was an Interpol red notice, which is not a warrant, alerting authorities to monitor his movements,” Stephens told Reuters.
“The arrest warrant was sent back by Scotland Yard because it did not comply with the law and was defective,” he said.
Swedish police confirmed Friday that a new arrest warrant had been sent to the UK police. Several British news outlets speculated that Assange could be arrested as early as tomorrow.
A Swedish prosecutor handling allegations against the WikiLeaks founder dismissed suggestions from one of his lawyers Sunday that the case might be politically motivated.
“This investigation has proceeded perfectly normally without any political pressure of any kind,” prosecutor Marianne Ny said.
“It is completely independent,” she added.
Assange said in a online chat Friday that he, his lawyers and his family have “had hundreds of specific death threats from US military militants”.
“Some right-wing sites also called for attacking me via my children,” he noted.
“I predicted this might happen since April, so since that time I have had to stay away from my family,” Assange added.
This video is from NBC’s Today Show, broadcast Dec. 6, 2010.
— with AFP