January 11, 2011

Assange Vows More Rapid WikiLeaks Releases

WikiLeaks will begin publishing confidential US government information, including embassy cables, more frequently, according to comments made by the website's founder on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters outside of a London courthouse, where he and his legal team were appearing for a procedural hearing regarding his possible extradition to Sweden to face sex crime charges, 39-year-old Julian Assange vowed that he and his team were "stepping up" their publishing schedule, and that they would be working with "our newspaper partners around the world--big and small newspapers and some human rights organizations" to spread the cables and other secret American files.

Assange, who was arrested last month on rape and molestation charges, appeared in court for just 10 minutes, according to AP Reporter Jill Lawless. The accusations stem from an alleged incident with two women in Sweden last summer, but many WikiLeaks supporters claim that the arrest was politically motivated, in an attempt to halt the website's activities--a charge the Swedish government denies.

According to Mark Tran of the Guardian, earlier in the day, "WikiLeaks released a statement decrying the death threats in the United States that have been made against Assange. It drew a link between his experience and that of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in an Arizona massacre Saturday that killed six people and touched off a fierce debate over the toxic tone of U.S. political discourse."

"WikiLeaks said its staff has been subject to 'unprecedented violent rhetoric by U.S. prominent media personalities,' naming former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as one of those who have called for Assange to be hunted down like a terrorist," Tran added in his Tuesday report.

Officials in the US are in the process of building a criminal case against WikiLeaks, who in addition to the recently published State Department cables has leaked hundreds of thousands of documents related to military intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to Tran, "The U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., has demanded details about the Twitter accounts of Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst in custody who is suspected of supplying WikiLeaks with classified information"¦ U.S. prosecutors also targeted three other WikiLeaks supporters: Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian, Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp and U.S. programmer Jacob Appelbaum."

CNET News is reporting that Jonsdottir, who is accused of assisting in the release of classified US military video, will be represented by lawyers at the San Francisco, California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Last Friday, Jonsdottir was one of the Twitter users whose account information was released to the Justice Department by the social networking website after they were presented with a court order.


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