Assange moved to isolation in jail as WikiLeaks continue

10th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

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

The 39-year-old Australian has been moved from the main part of Wandsworth prison to an isolation unit, said Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange's 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 on 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 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."

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

"Obviously 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.

She declined to elaborate on why he had difficulties 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.

Assange is due to appear in a London court again next Tuesday, when his case will be argued by Geoffrey Robertson, a high-profile British-Australian human rights lawyer.

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

Christine Assange, who lives in Queensland, dismissed the rape accusations against her son, but told Australia's Seven Network that she was concerned about what will happen to him.

"Julian, rape, straight out of my guts -- no way. Julian would not rape," she said.

She added: "It's a worry, of course. I am no different from any other mother. Every time the news goes on I am glued to it.

"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 overnight 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, dated August of that year, quoted an unidentified source as saying he saw about 300 North Koreans working at an underground site.

"The North Koreans, aided by Burmese workers, are constructing a concrete-reinforced underground facility that is '500ft from the top of the cave to the top of the hill above'," the cable said.

"The North Koreans are said to be assembling missiles of unknown origin," it said, adding that the report alone should not been taken as definitive proof or evidence of sizeable North Korean military involvement with the Myanmar regime.

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.

In the cable published by Britain's Guardian newspaper, Pfizer's country manager in Nigeria, Enrico Liggeri, told US officials of the operation in a meeting on April 9, 2009.

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

© 2010 AFP

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