People have died because of their affiliation with secrets website WikiLeaks, according to founder Julian Assange.
In a little-noticed interview with BBC’s John Humphrys, Assange claimed that WikiLeaks is not just facing financial and legal attacks. People associated with the website have actually been assassinated, he said.
Unfortunately, the interviewer did not follow-up and Assange did not provide any evidence.
Assange made the startling claim while Humphrys was questioning him about returning to Sweden to face sexual assault accusations.
“Here you are facing, possibly facing, very, very serious charges indeed, double rape even, is a possibility – and you are saying: ‘I will not go back to the country where those offenses are alleged to have been carried out to face the music,'” the BBC host noted.
“No, I have never said that,” Assange replied.
“In that case you can catch the next plane back to Sweden,” Humphrys countered.
“No, I do things according to proper process. I stayed in Sweden for five weeks to enable that proper process to occur. Proper process did not occur,” Assange said.
“I have a serious organization to run. People affiliated with our organization have already been assassinated. My work is serious,” he insisted.
Assange offered no additional details on the alleged assassinations and Humphrys failed to follow up.
The WikiLeaks founder was arrested in London earlier this month on accusations that he sexually assaulted two women. He was freed on bail pending a legal fight over extradition to Sweden.
He claims that during his time in prison, he was forced to listen to shouting from “crazy pedophiles” and lost a tooth when he bit into metal in his food.
After the British newspaper the Guardian published leaked details from the Swedish police report, Assange’s lawyers announced plans to file a lawsuit.
“I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing — trying to make Julian look bad,” Bjorn Hurtig, Assange’s lead lawyer, told the Australian.
“There has been a selective smear through the disclosure of material,” an unnamed WikiLeaks source told the newspaper. “The timing appears to have been cynically calculated to have the material published in the middle of the bail application and the appeal.”
Sources suggested last week that Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s former political strategist, may have had a hand in the prosecution. One of Assange’s accusers is also thought to have connections to notorious CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles.
The WikiLeaks founder told reporters Saturday that the US may be preparing to indict him on conspiracy charges.
The US Justice Department is hoping to find evidence that Assange encouraged or aided PFC Bradley Manning while the Army private worked to obtain and deliver to WikiLeaks 250,000 State Department cables.
For his part, Assange denies having any contact with Manning.
On Saturday, Bank of America Corp. joined PayPal, Mastercard and Visa in refusing to handle payments for WikiLeaks. Computer giant Apple also took steps this week to remove a WikiLeaks application from its iTunes store, but a similar program was still available for phones running Google’s Android operating system.
“It’s a new type of business McCarthyism in the US to deprive this organization of the funds that it needs to survive, to deprive me personally of the funds that my lawyers need to protect me against extradition to the US or to Sweden,” Assange told AFP.