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Authorities move WikiLeaks’ founder to ‘isolation’ cell

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, December 11, 2010 10:24 EDT
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Lawyer: Assange ‘does not get any recreation”

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange was in a segregation unit of a London jail Saturday for his safety, as new secret US diplomatic cables were made public, increasing the embarrassment to Washington.

The 39-year-old Australian has been transferred from the main section of Wandsworth prison to an isolation unit, Jennifer Robinson, one of his legal team, said Friday.

“The prison authorities are doing it for his own safety, presumably,” she told AFP.

Assange is due to appear in a London court for a second time Tuesday after being arrested on a warrant issued by Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women.

WikiLeaks insists the allegations are politically motivated because the whistleblowing website has enraged Washington and governments around the world by releasing thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

Robinson complained that Assange “does not get any recreation” in the prison and “has difficulties getting phone calls out… he is on his own.”

The former computer hacker is not allowed to have a laptop in his cell, but his lawyers have requested one.

“We are trying to prepare a legal appeal and he has difficulties hand writing, so it would be much easier in order to assist us in the preparation if he had a laptop,” Robinson said, without explaining why he had difficulty writing.

Assange is in “very good” spirits but “frustrated” that he cannot answer the allegations that WikiLeaks was behind cyber attacks launched on credit card firms which have refused to do business with the website.

“He told me he is absolutely not involved and this is a deliberate attempt to conflate WikiLeaks, which is a publishing organisation, with hacking organisations which are not,” she said.

The websites of the Dutch prosecutor’s office and police became the latest target of cyber attacks Friday, “probably” linked to the arrest of a 16-year-old WikiLeaks supporter, officials said.

Assange’s lawyer however denied reports that his legal team believe a US indictment over WikiLeaks is imminent.

But she added: “Our position is that any prosecution under the espionage act would be unconstitutional and call into question First Amendment protections for all media organisations.”

Assange’s mother said she was worried for her son because “massive forces” were ranged against him.

Christine Assange dismissed the rape accusations, but told Australia’s Seven Network she was concerned about what will happen to him.

“Julian, rape? Straight out of my guts — no way. Julian would not rape,” she said, adding: “It’s a worry, of course. I am no different from any other mother.

“These massive forces have decided they are going to stop him and they are not going to play by the rules.”

US cables released by WikiLeaks Saturday showed the Vatican refused to cooperate with an Irish probe into child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Dublin because the requests were not made through official channels.

Requests for information by the 2009 Murphy commission “offended many in the Vatican… because they saw them as an affront to Vatican sovereignty”, according to a cable from the US embassy in Rome, leaked by WikiLeaks.

The Murphy commission’s findings, published in November 2009, caused shock across Ireland and the worldwide Catholic community by detailing how Church authorities covered up for paedophile priests in Dublin for three decades.

Another cable leaked earlier showed London’s envoy to the Vatican feared the pope’s invitation for disgruntled Anglicans to switch to Catholicism might spark anti-Catholic violence in Britain.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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