In Brief

Julian Assange threatens Murdoch and News Corp

Media mogul added to list of people who’d better hope nothing happens to the WikiLeaks boss

Julian Assange

A clearer picture of what keeps Julian Assange awake at night has emerged after he threatened media mogul Rupert Murdoch with a release of "insurance files" if something happens to him. He also described China as WikiLeaks' main "technological enemy" - but said that, despite this, more Chinese are now able to read WikiLeaks documents.

The New Statesman interview with John Pilger, Assange's friend and fellow Australian journalist, focused on the media's treatment of the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief since he began to release top secret diplomatic cables sent from US embassies around the world.

With the United States going all-out to punish Assange using the 100-year-old Espionage Act, many media organisations and journalists have sought to distance themselves from the whistleblower.

"I think what's emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too," says Assange.

"Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the First Amendment, which journalists took for granted. That's being lost."

Assange's big concern is that if an attempt to extradite him to Sweden on sexual abuse charges is successful he will be quickly handed over to the United States. As a result, he has already made available an encrypted 'insurance' file to anybody who wants to download it. In the event that something happened to him or WikiLeaks, a code would be released and the (presumably incriminating) files would be unlocked.

The threat was presumed to be aimed solely at the US government, but Assange tells Pilger he is also in the position to release files relating to Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp empire.

The Murdoch-owned Fox News has been particularly critical of Assange, with one of the station's presenters calling on him to be "illegally" killed by US special forces.

On China, Assange says the country has "aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China.

"We've been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site."

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