Wikileaks: Assange says he received death threats from US soldiers
Published 20/12/2010 | 15:50
The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has claimed he is being bombarded with death threats from American soldiers.
He also said that a statement on the steps of the High Court in London last week after he was released on bail was cut short because police feared he would be assassinated.
Australian-born Mr Assange, 39, said his son Daniel, 20, and his lawyer have received similar chilling warnings.
Speaking to a Spanish newspaper after being released on £275,000 bail, he said: “I receive death threats all the time. My lawyer receives them, my son receives them.
“Most of them seem to come from members of the United States armed forces.”
Mr Assange’s son Daniel, who works for a software design company, is believed to be in hiding in Australia.
The WikiLeaks founder gave the interview to Spain’s El Pais newspaper from a 10-bedroom Norfolk mansion where he is awaiting extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.
He said: “It’s marvellous to have left solitary confinement. I feel very determined.
“I have seen that we received support on a global scale, especially in South America and Australia, and it seems as if everybody everywhere is supporting us.”
Mr Assange disclosed that police were worried he would be assassinated when he left the High Court after being granted bail last Thursday.
As a result he only spoke for a few minutes. He said: “I could have stayed there talking for an hour, but the police were worried because I could have been assassinated – or something like that.”
Mr Assange claimed he had been held in London's Wandsworth Prison on a wing housing “people who have been convicted of sexual offences, child killers”.
He added: “There were crazy paedophiles who shouted all night about their crimes. You heard these cries all night.”
He claimed he had the support of most prison guards. One gave him a card containing the words: “I only have two heroes in this world: Martin Luther King and you.”
Mr Assange claims he lost a tooth while in Wandsworth prison after chewing on a metal object in a plate of rice and beans.
He said: “I don’t know if it was put there or if it was a simple accident.” He wrapped the tooth up in paper but it later disappeared from his cell while he was out exercising.
Mr Assange joked: “It will soon be for sale on eBay. I suppose (it was taken) because they didn't want any kind of evidence that such an episode occurred.”
Mr Assange strenuously denied the allegations being made against him by two women in Sweden and claimed he is the victim of a smear campaign.
He said: “Even with what has been alleged, there is nothing that any reasonable person would say is a rape.
“I don’t like to see the word rape next to my name. I have never had a sexual relationship with anyone without consent.”
Mr Assange was speaking after American Vice President Joe Biden said he was a dangerous “hi-tech terrorist”, adding officials were looking at ways to prosecute him.
Asked whether he thought Assange was a hi-tech terrorist or a whistle-blower, Mr Biden said: “I would argue that it's closer to being hi-tech terrorist.”
Mr Assange has enraged Washington by obtaining a cache of some 250,000 US diplomatic cables and slowly releasing the documents through his whistle-blowing website, often causing huge embarrassment in world capitals.
Mr Assange is staying at Ellingham Hall, a mansion on a friend’s 600-acre country estate in eastern England, where he must live while on bail, pending ongoing extradition proceedings which may take months.