Assange concerned at murder talk

Please see this websites extensive record of threats made in the US via our “US RESPONSE” page.

Paola Totaro, London

January 12, 2011

Julian Assange has thanked Australia for its support of his — and WikiLeaks’ — cause but called on Americans to tone down political rhetoric, saying those who incite violence should be charged with incitement to murder.

Speaking to the Fairfax Media in the stairwell of the Crown Magistrates’ Court just before his first hearing, Mr Assange smiled and appeared calm, saying Australia had been “enormously helpful to our cause” and whispered “thank you” before being whisked off to a special room with his legal team.

The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes with both sides saying they were ready for the formal extradition hearing on February 6 and 7. Australian QC Geoffrey Robertson said the defence case was proceeding in a “swimming manner” and asked the judge for the defence’s skeleton argument to be made available to the public.

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This was posted online within minutes of the end of the hearing, in which the court allowed a change to bail conditions, allowing Mr Assange to sleep in London for two nights next month to avoid him having to wake up at 3am to attend court.

The defence argument reveals that the Australian High Commission in London and the Embassy in Stockholm have asked for all files relating to the case to be released to the defence team, but the Swedes have rejected this.

However it is clear from Swedish correspondence that no decision to prosecute has been made and Mr Assange is only wanted for further questioning — which his defence team argue is an improper use of a European Arrest Warrant, used to seek his extradition.

The defence argument makes it clear that “there is considerable doubt as to whether Mr Assange would be prosecuted at all, if extradited” and says this is underlined by the point that “a decision as to whether he will be prosecuted at all remains to be taken” by the prosecutors.

“Yet the EAW should only have been issued for the purposes of prosecution” the defence argues.

Outside the court however, Mr Assange said he was happy with the outcome of proceedings so far: “I would also like to say that our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing for matters relating to ‘cablegate’ and other materials. This will shortly be occurring through our newspaper partners around the world, big and small newspapers and some human rights organisations.”

The hearing was held just hours after Mr Assange issued a call for calmer political rhetoric in the US, expressing anxiety about violent threats made against him and his colleagues.

In a statement issued in the early hours via Twitter under the headline “Wikileaks: Treat incitement seriously or expect more Gabrielle Gifford killing sprees”, Mr Assange said that no organisation anywhere in the world was 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.Those who call for an act of murder deserve as significant share of the guilt as those raising a gun to pull the trigger,” he said.

“WikiLeaks has many young staff, volunteers and supporters in the same geographic vicinity as these the broadcast or circulation of these incitements to kill. We have also seen mentally unstable people travel from the US and other counties to other locations. Consequently we have to engage in extreme security measures.

“We call on US authorities and others to protect the rule of law by aggressively prosecuting these and similar incitements to kill. A civil nation of laws can not have prominent members of society constantly calling for the murder and assassination of other individuals or groups.”

In the one-page statement, Mr Assange also offered sympathy and condolences to the victims of the Tucson shooting on behalf of Wikileaks, together with best wishes for the recovery of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. the Democrat from Arizona’s 8th district who was the target of the shooting spree in which six others, including a nine year old girl, were killed.

He also quoted Tucson Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who is leading the investigation into the shooting, who said that “vitriolic rhetoric” intended to ”inflame the public on a daily basis … has [an] impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with.”

Mr Dupnik also observed that officials and media identities engaging in violent rhetoric “have to consider that they have some responsibility when incidents like this occur and may occur in the future.”

Mr Assange said WikiLeaks staff and contributors had collected examples of unprecedented violent rhetoric by US prominent media identities against them, collecting the details on a website.

He cited Sarah Palin, who urged the US administration to “Hunt down the WikiLeaks chief like the Taliban”.

Prominent US politician Mike Huckabee called for his execution on his Fox News program last November, and Fox News commentator Bob Beckel, publicly called for people to “illegally shoot the son of a bitch”.

US radio identity Rush Limbaugh has called for pressure to “Give [Fox News President Roger] Ailes the order and [then] there is no Assange, I’ll guarantee you, and there will be no fingerprints on it”, while Washington Times columnist Jeffery T. Kuhner titled his column “Assassinate Assange” captioned with a picture Julian Assange overlayed with a gun sight, blood spatters, and “WANTED DEAD or ALIVE” with the alive crossed out.

John Hawkins of townhall.com has stated “If Julian Assange is shot in the head tomorrow or if his car is blown up when he turns the key, what message do you think that would send about releasing sensitive American data?”

Christian Whiton in a Fox News opinion piece called for violence against WikiLeaks publishers and editors, saying the US should “designate WikiLeaks and its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them”.

 

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One Response to “Assange concerned at murder talk”

  1. samantha castro Reply 12/01/2011 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you Julian Assange for recognising the support here in Australia and for highlighting the consequences of violent rhetoric in the public space.
    Please Julian and wikileaks representatives continue to speak to the Australian people – as our PM remains silent, the public supporting you need to hear your voice in this unfolding narrative.

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