WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Tom Flanagan — a former senior adviser to the prime minister — should be charged with incitement to commit murder for calling for Assange’s assassination.
Julian Assange, seen in this November file photo, says he is taking ‘appropriate precautions’ against threats to his life. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)
Assange was asked during a live Q&A Friday on the website of the Guardian newspaper about Flanagan’s comments earlier this week.
“It is correct that Mr. Flanagan and the others seriously making these statements should be charged with incitement to commit murder,” Assange replied.
Flanagan, a University of Calgary professor who once served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff during his days as Opposition leader, has said he regrets his “glib” comment on CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon calling for the assassination of Assange.
“I never seriously intended to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange,” Flanagan told the CBC’s Solomon on Wednesday.
“But I do think that what he’s doing is very malicious and harmful to diplomacy and endangering people’s lives, and I think it should be stopped.”
Government House leader John Baird has said Flanagan does not speak for Harper’s Conservative government and has not worked for the prime minister for several years.
Section 22 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it illegal to incite an offence only if the offence is actually committed. NDP MP Joe Comartin, a former criminal lawyer, said he didn’t believe there was any possibility Flanagan could be charged under the Criminal Code.
“Maybe some provisions under the Human Rights Act,” Comartin said.
He said there are calls at the University of Calgary for disciplinary action, but a spokesman for the University of Calgary confirmed that the school is “not considering disciplinary action against Dr. Flanagan at this time.”
Tom Flanagan says he regrets saying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be assassinated for his organization’s publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables. (CBC)
During a panel interview on the show Monday, Flanagan said U.S. President Barack Obama “should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something.”
Assange, who participated in the Guardian’s Q&A from an undisclosed location, disputed the contention of Flanagan and numerous governments that his organization’s publishing of secret U.S. diplomatic cables has put people’s lives in danger.
“WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history,” Assange said.
“During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by organizations like the Pentagon, that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities.
“This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard.”
During the Guardian Q&A, Assange was asked directly by a commenter whether he fears for his security.
“The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower,” Assange said in his reply.
CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said CBC News has responded to several complaints about Flanagan’s comments. He said the public broadcaster’s ombudsman has also received some complaints, but he did not know how many.
Keay said Flanagan will continue to appear as an occasional commentator.
“We note that he withdrew his remark and apologized for it,” he said.