WikiLeaks' Assange moved to isolation in British jail

10th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Police moved WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to the segregation unit of a London jail for his safety, a lawyer said Friday as new cables showed the US suspects Myanmar has a secret nuclear programme.

The 39-year-old Australian has been transferred from the main section of Wandsworth prison to an isolation unit, said Jennifer Robinson, one of his legal team.

"The prison authorities are doing it for his own safety, presumably," she told AFP.

Assange is due to appear in a London court for a second time Tuesday after being arrested on a warrant issued by Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women.

WikiLeaks insists the allegations are politically motivated because the whistleblowing website has enraged Washington and governments around the world by releasing thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

Robinson complained that Assange "does not get any recreation" in the prison and "has difficulties getting phone calls out... he is on his own."

The former computer hacker is not allowed to have a laptop in his cell, but his lawyers have requested one.

"We are trying to prepare a legal appeal and he has difficulties hand writing, so it would be much easier in order to assist us in the preparation if he had a laptop," Robinson said, without explaining why he had difficulty writing.

Assange is in "very good" spirits but "frustrated" that he cannot answer the allegations that WikiLeaks was behind cyber attacks launched on credit card firms which have refused to do business with the website.

"He told me he is absolutely not involved and this is a deliberate attempt to conflate WikiLeaks, which is a publishing organisation, with hacking organisations which are not," she said.

The websites of the Dutch prosecutor's office and police became the latest target of cyber attacks Friday, "probably" linked to the arrest of a 16-year-old WikiLeaks supporter, officials said.

Assange's lawyer however denied reports that his legal team believe a US indictment over WikiLeaks is imminent.

But she added: "Our position is that any prosecution under the espionage act would be unconstitutional and call into question First Amendment protections for all media organisations."

Assange's mother said she was worried for her son because "massive forces" were ranged against him.

Christine Assange dismissed the rape accusations, but told Australia's Seven Network she was concerned about what will happen to him.

"Julian, rape? Straight out of my guts -- no way. Julian would not rape," she said, adding: "It's a worry, of course. I am no different from any other mother.

"These massive forces have decided they are going to stop him and they are not going to play by the rules."

Cables released by WikiLeaks Thursday showed Washington has suspected for years that Myanmar has a secret nuclear programme supported by North Korea, with witnesses reporting suspicious activity dating back to 2004.

One cable from the US embassy in Yangon quoted an unidentified source as saying he saw about 300 North Koreans working at an underground site.

Another leaked release said US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had sought damaging information against Nigeria's ex-attorney general to pressure him into dropping lawsuits over a drug trial.

Pfizer has maintained that it had done nothing wrong and has denied any liability.

Meanwhile, former WikiLeaks supporters who have fallen out with Assange said they would launch a rival project aiming to get secret documents directly to media, called OpenLeaks.

"OpenLeaks is a technology project that is aiming to be a service provider for third parties that want to be able to accept material from anonymous sources," Daniel Domscheit-Berg, WikiLeaks' former spokesman in Germany, told Swedish television.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article