martedì 11 gennaio 2011
Oriano Mattei : Assange: 'Violent Rhetoric' Will Spark More Shooting Sprees
11 Gennaio 2011
LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned that inflammatory rhetoric will lead to more shooting rampages like the one in Arizona over the weekend, arguing that media figures and officials who whip up hate and violence should be charged with "incitement to murder."
Assange made the argument Monday in a statement put out by his anti-secrecy group shortly before he appeared at a London court as part of his fight against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crimes charges. The press release offered "sympathy and condolences" to all of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in which six people died and 14 were wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Julian Assange decries violent rhetoric
Leon Neal, AFP / Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is attacking "unprecedented violent rhetoric" from the media and U.S. politicians after last weekend's shooting rampage in Arizona.
WikiLeaks drew a link between the rhetoric some blame for the attack and that aimed at Assange and his staff. The organization said its founder and other contributors had been subject to "unprecedented violent rhetoric" from U.S. politicians and opinion makers following its release of thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables. WikiLeaks warned that unless authorities treat this kind of "incitement seriously," they should expect "more Gabrielle Gifford [sic] killing sprees."
The statement listed several high-profile U.S. figures who have called for Assange and his supporters to be attacked, killed or executed. It noted that Sarah Palin has said the U.S. should pursue Assange as if he was an al-Qaida or Taliban leader, while Fox News commentator Bob Beckel has publicly called for people to "illegally shoot the son of a bitch [Assange]."
The WikiLeaks founder said that although his organization is a devoted advocate of free speech, "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." He added, "Those who call for an act of murder deserve as significant share of the guilt as those raising a gun to pull the trigger."
The 39-year-old Australian said his organization had now implemented "extreme security measures" to protect its staff and called on U.S. authorities to "protect the rule of law by aggressively investigating these and similar incitements to kill. A civil nation of laws cannot have prominent members of society constantly calling for the murder and assassination of other individuals or groups."
Soon after that statement was issued, the computer expert made a brief appearance at London's high-security Belmarsh Magistrates' Court. The hearing lasted just 10 minutes, with lawyers for both sides agreeing that a full extradition hearing -- where Assange's legal team will get the chance to explain why their client shouldn't be sent to Sweden -- would take place on Feb. 7 and 8.
Dozens of journalists from around the world had clustered into the courtroom, but Assange, wearing a dark suit and a navy blue tie, spoke only once to confirm his name, age and address.
Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange in connection with alleged sexual assaults on two Swedish women last summer. The WikiLeaks boss has repeatedly denied the allegations, and his supporters have suggested that Assange is being prosecuted for political reasons. Swedish officials strenuously deny the charge and say they are simply following the country's rule of law.
At the end of the hearing, Assange held a brief press conference outside the court. He told reporters he was "happy" with the outcome of today's hearing and promised that WikiLeaks would soon release a new set of leaked documents.
"Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated," he said. "We are stepping up publishing for Cablegate and other materials. They will be shortly appearing with the help of our newspaper partners."
WikiLeaks has published hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. government documents over the past year, and most recently released a trove of diplomatic cables sent by American embassies around the world. Washington is investigating how it can prosecute Assange and last week issued a stack of subpoenas to Twitter, demanding that the social-networking site hand over personal details of people linked to WikiLeaks, including the site's founder.