WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking from an undisclosed spot thought to be in Britain, said Friday that Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff “should be charged with incitement to commit murder” for saying Assange should be assassinated.
Assange answered questions through the website of the British newspaper The Guardian.
Tom Flanagan, a University of Calgary professor and former Harper adviser, apologized on Wednesday for his remark.
“I never seriously intended to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange. 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.”
Earlier, Flanagan had said, “I think Assange should be assassinated” and U.S. President Barack Obama “should put out a contract” on him.
“It is correct that Mr. Flanagan and the others seriously making these statements should be charged with incitement to commit murder,” Assange said in answer to a question about Flanagan.
The newspaper had promised a live question and answer session with Assange but much of its site crashed at 8 a.m. Toronto time, when the session was supposed to start.
Guardian IT staff explained on Twitter that a “huge load” of people trying to access the site or post questions brought it down. The newspaper managed to start posting Assange’s answers shortly before 9 a.m.
Assange disputed the contention WikiLeaks’ disclosures had put lives at risk.
During its four-year publishing history, he said, “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 counterfactual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard.”
Sarah Palin has branded Assange a terrorist and said he “has blood on his hands.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the email release “an attack on the international community.”
Assange, in turn, in a Skype interview with Time magazine, demanded Clinton resign over disclosures of U.S. spying on United Nations diplomats.
Assange is the highest profile member of WikiLeaks and his picture fronts the whistle-blowing organization’s website. He tried to deflect that in answer to a question about giving his sources credit.
“One of our goals has been to lionize the source who take the real risks in nearly every journalistic disclosure and without whose efforts, journalists would be nothing,” said Assange.
“If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier — Bradley Manning — is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero.”
Manning has been in custody since May on charges related to an earlier leak. The latest disclosures from a cache of a quarter-million diplomatic cables have been in Wikileaks’ hands for some time.
To a question of how his high profile undermines other WikiLeaks members, Assange replied, “I originally tried hard for the organization to have no face. In the end, someone must be responsible to the public. I have become the lightening rod.
“I get undue attacks on every aspect of my life, but then I also get undue credit as some kind of balancing force.”
Assange, 40, disclosed that he thought WikiLeaks would be recognized globally more quickly than it has been.
“I thought it would take two years instead of four to be recognized by others as having this important role, so we are still a little behind schedule and have much more work to do,” he said.
“I always believed that WikiLeaks as a concept would perform a global role and to some degree it was clear that (it) was doing that as far back as 2007 when it changed the result of the Kenyan general election.”
About his personal safety, the man who is wanted by the international police organization Interpol said, “We are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power.”
If something happens to him, he said, “The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the U.S. and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. The key parts will be released automatically.
“History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.”
Assange, an Australian citizen who appears to have been living in Sweden for the last few years, said he missed Australia “a great deal” but authorities there “have made it clear that not only is my return impossible but they are actively working to assist the United States in its attacks on myself and our people.”
To the question: “Are you a journalist?” he replied he wrote his first nonfiction book by the age of 25 and has worked on documentaries and with newspapers, TV and the Internet since then.
“However, it is not necessary to debate whether I am a journalist, or how our people mysteriously are alleged to cease to be journalists when they start writing for our organization. Although I still write, research and investigate my role is primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organizes and directs other journalists.”
Previous WikiLeaks disclosures, he said, are available at mirror.wikileaks.info rather than its main site, which has been moved around and lost servers in the high tech cat-and-mouse game Wikileaks has been playing with various governments.
Forthcoming cables will have references to UFOs, he said, but a lot of the emails they receive about extraterrestrials violate two of WikiLeaks’ publishing rules: that documents not be self-authored and that they be original.
“Many weirdos email us about UFOs or how they discovered that they were the anti-Christ whilst talking with their ex-wife at a garden party over a pot-plant,” he said.