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Assange: GOP will try to criminalize WikiLeaks

By Daniel Tencer
Thursday, November 4, 2010 17:37 EDT
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UPDATE

Republicans emboldened by their victory in the House this week may try to pass a law criminalizing WikiLeaks, the organization’s founder said Thursday.

In an interview with Swiss network TSR, Julian Assange said he believes the GOP may try to pass a law that would classify leaks of classified documents as a form of spying.

“Asked about the results of Tuesday’s elections, Assange said he saw it as another turn of the screw,” TSR reported. “According to him, the Republicans intend to pass a law under which releasing documents like those of WikiLeaks would be a form of espionage.”

Assange also said he is considering filing for political asylum in Switzerland. He said moving the WikiLeaks operation to the central European country and filing for political asylum “is a possibility that we’re considering seriously.”

Assange added that Switzerland, because of its laws, is one of three of countries where WikiLeaks could operate safely — the other two being Iceland and Cuba. “But that should not be the case,” he added.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW

Julian Assange said he was warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’ in fight to release war documents

The founder of Wikileaks is planning to sue Sweden over its heavily-publicized investigation into allegations of rape against him, says a report from a Swedish news source.

The Local reports that Julian Assange plans to sue the Swedish government over “legal mistakes” made in the investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted two Swedish women. Assange has maintained his innocence throughout, telling the media he has “never had non-consensual sex” with anyone.

Sweden’s prosecution service issued a warrant for Assange on Aug. 20, stirring up a firestorm of media coverage and allegations by backers of the whistleblower Web site that the prosecution was politically motivated.

A day later, authorities dropped the arrest warrant. But that decision was appealed and another prosecutor reopened the case. Assange was interviewed by Swedish police at the end of August, after which his lawyer said he expected all charges to be dropped.

Assange has admitted to meeting the two women at a press conference, but has refused to say if he had any sexual contact with them.

The WikiLeaks founder has speculated that the Pentagon may be behind the claims, given Wikileaks’ release this year of treasure troves of documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says he was warned by Australian intelligence to expect “dirty tricks.”

Assange told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet that he was advised by several lawyers to launch a lawsuit against the Swedish government. “I’m very disappointed [with] the Swedish authorities,” he’s quoted as saying.

Assange has shown growing frustration with the media’s interest in the case, arguing that it distracts from WikiLeaks’ efforts to expose government secrecy.

During an interview with CNN last month, Assange walked off the set when interviewer Atika Shubert prodded him on the rape allegations.

“This interview is about something else,” he said. “I will have to walk if you are… If you are going to contaminate this extremely serious interview with questions about my personal life.”

Assange called Thursday on the United States to open up “instead of covering up” after WikiLeaks’ release of secret US documents detailing abuses committed during the Iraq war.

Assange pledged to carry on publishing exposes on various countries, including the United States, in keeping with the whistleblowing site’s bid since 2007 to publish secret and important information.

“It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up. The US is in danger of losing its way,” he told journalists in Geneva, pointing to a “proud” US tradition of freedom of information.

“The law means nothing if the law is not upheld by a government,” he added.

Assange said the Web site and those working with it had been threatened and ordered by the Pentagon to quash information following the document releases.

“That is an extraordinary demand and threat,” Assange claimed.

“I find myself, and our organization finds itself, in the rather unusual position of being both expert witness to human rights abuses committed by the United States government in various areas and a victim of some those abuses ourselves,” he added, flanked by two bodyguards.

Assange said staff or people “affiliated” to the website were under pressure or had been detained.

The Wall Street Journal reports that WikiLeaks is under pressure in a different way as well: Some of the group’s members are reportedly splitting off to form their own competing document-leaking organization. The WSJ reports:

[O]ne of the leaders of the new initiative is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a top WikiLeaks lieutenant who quit the group in September. Mr. Domscheit-Berg, a German, is planning to launch new technology to assist whistleblowers who want to leak documents, said people with knowledge of the matter.

In media interviews since leaving WikiLeaks, Mr. Domscheit-Berg has complained that the group, while pursuing big leaks about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has neglected to publish a stack of lower-profile but still important documents it has received from other parts of the world.

Demand for whistle-blowing outlets appears robust. Speaking at an event in London last week, Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks has temporarily stopped accepting new documents because it has too large a backlog and not enough resources to publish them at the moment.

With a report from AFP

 
 
 
 
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