Assange says fears U.S. extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he was the target of an aggressive U.S. investigation.

Assange says fears U.S. extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he was the target of an aggressive U.S. investigation and feared extradition to the United States was "increasingly likely".

The 39-year-old Australian computer expert, who Swedish authorities want to question over alleged sexual offences, has angered the United States by releasing secret diplomatic cables on his website and teaming up with newspapers around the globe to amplify the impact of the disclosures.

Speaking to reporters from the grounds of the English country house where he was sent after his release on bail this week, Assange denounced what he called a smear campaign against him and said he expected more attempts to tarnish his name.

"The risk we have always been concerned about is onward extradition to the United States and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely," Assange told reporters in the sprawling grounds of the house in eastern England where he must spend Christmas and New Year.

Asked if he was facing a U.S. conspiracy, Assange told reporters: "I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation. A lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases."

U.S. media reports say U.S. prosecutors could charge Assange with espionage and seek his extradition if they can show he helped a U.S. intelligence analyst, suspected of being behind the leaks, collect the classified material.

Assange has denied any knowledge of the former U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning.

Assange has described the curbs on him as "hi-tech house arrest". As part of his bail conditions, he must stay at an 18th-century mansion owned by former British army officer Vaughan Smith, situated close to the city of Norwich, around three hours' drive from London.

Smith has said that the Internet connection at the house is not good. Assange, who must report to police daily, abide by a curfew and wear an electronic tag, said the conditions were "a gross impediment to my work" but would not stop him.

He said he expected further attempted smears from the Swedish authorities but did not elaborate.

"It is designed to withstand decapitation attacks and our publishing rates actually increased over the time that I was in solitary confinement," he said.

Assange was asked about reports that WikiLeaks planned to release a series of secret banking documents, but refused to say which banks might be involved.

"It is our normal business to publish information about banks ... of course we are continuing to release material about banks."


Reuters

Last Mod: 17 Aralık 2010, 18:10
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