Assange pushes back at 'hi-tech terrorist' charge
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange pushed back Monday after US Vice President Joe Biden blasted him as a dangerous "hi-tech terrorist."
The 39-year-old Australian also told the Spanish daily El Pais that he was in "a condition of high-tech arrest" although he was released on bail by a British court last week while he fights extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sex crimes.
Asked whether he thought Assange was a hi-tech terrorist or a whistleblower akin to those who released the Pentagon Papers -- a series of top-secret documents revealing US military policy in Vietnam -- Biden said Sunday: "I would argue that it's closer to being hi-tech terrorist."
And he said the US Justice Department was mulling how to take legal action against the Australian.
But Assange responded by noting that "terrorism is defined as the use of violence for political purposes."
"Biden's administration continues to take offense at our organisation and the press with a violent or political objective, so who are the terrorists?" he said.
Assange has enraged Washington by obtaining a cache of some 250,000 US diplomatic cables and slowly releasing the documents through his whistleblowing website, often causing huge embarrassment in world capitals.
He complained to El Pais that he was "in a condition of high-tech arrest."
"That is I have electronic jewellery which means if I leave the house outside of curfew times then an alarm will go off. It is very Orwellian," he said.
Assange said he was also required to report to a police station once a day, whicvh means he cannot stray far from his house.
"That does interfere with my work, it means no secret meetings with government sources or others who may be willing to assist me," he added. "It means it is much easier to monitor my communication. That is a strong and wrongful impediment to my work."
He is staying at Ellingham Hall, a mansion on a friend's 600-acre country estate in eastern England, where he must live while on bail, pending ongoing extradition proceedings which may take months.
Media reports suggest that US prosecutors are trying to build a case against him on the grounds that he encouraged a US soldier, Bradley Manning, to steal US cables from a government computer and pass them to WikiLeaks.
Assange has denied knowing Manning.
© 2010 AFP