Two distinguished scholars and activists, Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer, signed an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia on Tuesday, urging the government to condemn calls for Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be assassinated.

Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher and Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, who is most well known for his involvement in the creation of the animal rights movement. Noam Chomsky, who has authored more than 150 books on political theory, linguistics, and philosophy, is a Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The letter notes that numerous conservatives in the US have dubbed Assange a terrorist and have even called for his death.

"We should treat Mr. Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him," conservative columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner wrote in the Washington Times.

When asked about Congressman Peter King's (R-NY) recommendation that WikiLeaks be designated a foreign terrorist organization, Chomsky responded that King's suggestion was "outlandish."

"The materials—we should understand—and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point—that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population," Chomsky said in an interview with the Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. "In the Pentagon Papers, for example, there was one volume, the negotiations volume, which might have had bearing on ongoing activities, and Dan Ellsberg withheld that. That came out a little bit later."

The Pentagon Papers were a collection of top-secret Department of Defense documents on the history of the United States' involvement in Vietnam that were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.

"But if you look at the Papers themselves, there are things that Americans should have known that the government didn’t want them to know," he continued. "And as far as I can tell, from what I’ve seen here, pretty much the same is true. In fact, the current leaks are—what I’ve seen, at least—primarily interesting because of what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works."

Singer said there was a "clear parallel" between the Afghanistan war documents leak and the Pentagon Papers.

Although greater transparency has some bad consequences, Singer concludes that "a climate of openness makes it more likely that governments and corporations will act more ethically."

"In a world in which terrorists have committed atrocities and threaten to commit more, to seek complete government transparency is utopian," Singer wrote at Project Syndicate in August. "Sometimes it is possible to do good only in secret. Yet on the whole, a more transparent community is likely to be a better one – and the same applies to a more transparent world."

A number of other high-profile Australians signed the letter, including Senator Bob Brown, Senator Scott Ludlam, army whistleblower Lance Collins, Australian authors including Raimond Gaita, Christos Tsiolkas and Helen Garner, and retired Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins of the Australian Intelligence Corps.

Scores of other public intellectuals and activists outside of Australia have voiced their support for Assange as well.

Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said he supports Assange and blasted Amazon for booting WikiLeaks from its hosting service.

"I'm disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating its hosting of the WikiLeaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers," he wrote on his website. "I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing."

Longtime feminist activist Naomi Wolf also mocked Interpol's warrant for Assange, satirically 'thanking' the organization for "engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating."

"Thank you again, Interpol," she wrote at the Huffington Post. I know you will now prioritize the global manhunt for 1.3 million guys I have heard similar complaints about personally in the US alone -- there is an entire fraternity at the University of Texas you need to arrest immediately."

In an interview with CNN's Larry King, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore praised Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old army intelligence analyst accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks, saying "he essentially followed the Nuremberg principles, which is when you see something going on like this, when you see war crimes being committed, when you see lies being told in order to bring a country to war, you have to speak out against it."


Dear Prime Minister,

We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

“We should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him,” writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.

William Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, asks, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”

“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” writes the prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg.

“The CIA should have already killed Julian Assange,” says John Hawkins on the Right Wing News site.

Sarah Palin, a likely presidential candidate, compares Assange to an Al Qaeda leader; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and potential presidential contender, accuses Assange of “terrorism”.

And so on and so forth.

Such calls cannot be dismissed as bluster. Over the last decade, we have seen the normalisation of extrajudicial measures once unthinkable, from ‘extraordinary rendition’ (kidnapping) to ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture).

In that context, we now have grave concerns for Mr Assange’s wellbeing.

Irrespective of the political controversies surrounding WikiLeaks, Mr Assange remains entitled to conduct his affairs in safety, and to receive procedural fairness in any legal proceedings against him.

As is well known, Mr Assange is an Australian citizen.

We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange, and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states.

We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange's passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.

A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial – it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

We believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.

In this crucial time, a strong statement by you and your Government can make an important difference.

We look forward to your response.

Dr Jeff Sparrow, author and editor

Lizzie O’Shea, Social Justice Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn

Professor Noam Chomsky, writer and academic

Antony Loewenstein, journalist and author

Mungo MacCallum, journalist and writer

Professor Peter Singer, author and academic

Adam Bandt, MP

Senator Bob Brown

Senator Scott Ludlam

Julian Burnside QC, barrister

Jeff Lawrence, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Professor Raimond Gaita, author and academic

Rob Stary, lawyer

Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps, writer

The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC

Brian Walters SC, barrister

Professor Larissa Behrendt, academic

Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, academic, Sydney Peace Foundation

Mary Kostakidis, Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation

Professor Wendy Bacon, journalist

Christos Tsiolkas, author

James Bradley, author and journalist

Julian Morrow, comedian and television producer

Louise Swinn, publisher

Helen Garner, novelist

Professor Dennis Altman, writer and academic

Dr Leslie Cannold, author, ethicist, commentator

John Birmingham, writer

Guy Rundle, writer

Alex Miller, writer

Sophie Cunningham, editor and author

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

Professor Judith Brett, author and academic

Stephen Keim SC, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Phil Lynch, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Resource Centre

Sylvia Hale, MLC

Sophie Black, editor

David Ritter, lawyer and historian

Dr Scott Burchill, writer and academic

Dr Mark Davis, author and academic

Henry Rosenbloom, publisher

Ben Naparstek, editor

Chris Feik, editor

Louise Swinn, publisher

Stephen Warne, barrister

Dr John Dwyer QC

Hilary McPhee, writer, publisher

Joan Dwyer OAM

Greg Barns, barrister

James Button, journalist

Owen Richardson, critic

Michelle Griffin, editor

John Timlin, literary Agent & producer

Ann Cunningham, lawyer and publisher

Alison Croggon, author, critic

Daniel Keene, playwright

Dr Nick Shimmin, editor/writer

Bill O'Shea, lawyer, former President, Law Institute of Victoria

Dianne Otto, Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School

Professor Frank Hutchinson,Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney

Anthony Georgeff, editor

Max Gillies, actor

Shane Maloney, writer

Louis Armand, author and publisher

Jenna Price, academic and journalist

Tanja Kovac, National Cooordinator EMILY's List Australia

Dr Russell Grigg, academic

Dr Justin Clemens, writer and academic

Susan Morairty, Lawyer

David Hirsch, Barrister

Cr Anne O’Shea

Kathryn Crosby, Candidates Online

Dr Robert Sparrow, academic

Jennifer Mills, author

Foong Ling Kong, editor

Tim Norton, Online Campaigns Co-ordinator, Oxfam Australia

Elisabeth Wynhausen, writer

Ben Slade, Lawyer

Nikki Anderson, publisher

Dan Cass

Professor Diane Bell, author and academic

Dr Philipa Rothfield, academic

Gary Cazalet, academic

Dr David Coady, academic

Dr Matthew Sharpe, writer and academic

Dr Tamas Pataki, writer and academic

Miska Mandic

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, academic

Professor Simon During, academic

Michael Brull, writer

Dr Geoff Boucher, academic

Jacinda Woodhead, writer and editor

Dr Rjurik Davidson, writer and editor

Mic Looby, writer

Jane Gleeson-White, writer and editor

Alex Skutenko, editor

Associate Professor John Collins, academic

Professor Philip Pettit, academic

Dr Christopher Scanlon, writer and academic

Dr Lawrie Zion, journalist

Johannes Jakob, editor

Sunili Govinnage, lawyer

Michael Bates, lawyer

Bridget Maidment, editor

Bryce Ives, theatre director

Sarah Darmody, writer

Jill Sparrow, writer

Lyn Bender, psychologist

Meredith Rose, editor

Dr Ellie Rennie, President, Engage Media

Ryan Paine, editor

Simon Cooper, editor

Chris Haan, lawyer

Carmela Baranowska, journalist.

Clinton Ellicott, publisher

Dr Charles Richardson, writer and academic

Phillip Frazer, publisher

Geoff Lemon, journalist

Jaya Savige, poet and editor

Johannes Jakob, editor

Kate Bree Geyer; journalist

Chay-Ya Clancy, performer

Lisa Greenaway, editor, writer

Chris Kennett - screenwriter, journalist

Kasey Edwards, author

Dr. Janine Little, academic

Dr Andrew Milner, writer and academic

Patricia Cornelius, writer

Elisa Berg, publisher

Lily Keil, editor

Jenny Sinclair

Roselina Rose

Stephen Luntz

PM Newton

Bryan Cooke

Kristen Obaid

Ryan Haldane-Underwood

Patrick Gardner

Robert Sinnerbrink

Kathryn Millist

Anne Coombs

Karen Pickering

Sarah Mizrahi

Suzanne Ingleton

Jessica Crouch

Michael Ingleton

Matt Griffin

Jane Allen

Tom Curtis

John Connell

David Garland

Stuart Hall

Meredith Tucker-Evans

Phil Perkins

Alexandra Adsett

Tom Doig, editor

Beth Jackson

Peter Mattessi

Robert Sinnerbrink

Greg Black

Paul Ashton

Sigi Jottkandt

Kym Connell, lawyer

Silma Ihram

Nicole Papaleo, lawyer

Melissa Forbes

Matthew Ryan

Ben Gook

Daniel East

Bridget Ikin

Lisa O'Connell

Melissa Cranenburgh

John Bryson

Michael Farrell

Melissa Reeves

Dr Emma Cox

Michael Green

Margherita Tracanelli

David Carlin, writer

Bridget McDonnell

Geoff Page, writer

Rebecca Interdonato

Roxane Ludbrook-Ingleton

Stefan Caramia

Ash Plummer