The editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks called on US authorities to seek charges against high-profile Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee for "incitements to kill" by the use of "violent rhetoric" against the anti- secrecy outlet.
Julian Assange's plea came in a press release Monday night in the aftermath of the Tucson murders Saturday that left 6 dead and 14 others wounded, the victims of which included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and federal judge John Roll.
"No organisation anywhere in the world is a more devoted advocate of free speech than WikiLeaks but when senior politicians and attention seeking media commentators call for specific individuals or groups of people to be killed they should be charged with incitement -- to murder," Assange said, mentioning comments made by, among others, Palin and Huckabee, two likely contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
In recent months, as WikiLeaks has engaged in the unauthorized leaks of embarrassing state secrets about the US and other countries, Huckabee has called for the "execution" of Assange, while Palin has urged authorities to pursue him "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders."
"Those who call for an act of murder deserve as significant share of the guilt as those raising a gun to pull the trigger," said Assange, who is presently under house arrest in England and faces a court trial for alleged sex crimes.
WikiLeaks has likewise become the target of a criminal investigation by the Obama administration and has been cast as a villain by top Republicans, Democrats, and media figures, several of whom have likened him to a terrorist.
Assange cited commentators at Fox News and the conservative website TownHall.com for inflammatory language against his group, heeding the Arizona murders as a warning sign that violent rhetoric can perhaps lead to violence.
"WikiLeaks has many young staff, volunteers and supporters in the same geographic vicinity as these the broadcast or circulation of these incitements to kill," he said, adding: "We call on US authorities and others to protect the rule of law by aggressively prosecuting these and similar incitements to kill."
While many media figures and politicians have spoken out against the inflammatory rhetoric Assange laments, critics are likely to have a field day with the optics of a fiercely pro-free speech group calling for the regulation of rhetoric.