06-16-2010 02:00 AM
The Daily Beast
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Julian Assange, who the Feds fear may release State Dept. secrets, denies having them—but he’s readying video of a deadly U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan.
After several days underground, the founder of the secretive website WikiLeaks has gone public to disclose that he is preparing to release a classified Pentagon video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan last year that left as many as 140 civilians dead, most of them children and teenagers.
In an email obtained by The Daily Beast that was sent to WikiLeaks supporters in the United States Tuesday, Julian Assange, the website’s Australian-born founder, also defends a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist who is now under arrest in Kuwait on charges that he leaked classified Pentagon combat videos, as well as 260,000 State Department cables, to WikiLeaks.
“Mr. Manning allegedly also sent us 260,000 classified US Department cables, reporting on the actions of US Embassy’s [sic] engaging in abusive actions all over the world,” Assange said in an email. “We have denied the allegation, but the US government is acting as if the allegation is true.”
American officials have said they are eager to determine the whereabouts of Assange, who canceled an appearance last Friday in Las Vegas, to discourage him from releasing any more classified information on his website, which is nominally based in Sweden and promotes itself as a global resource for whistleblowers. As recently as two weeks ago, Assange, who first gained global notoriety as a computer hacker, was in his native Australia.
In April, his website posted a copy of a classified Pentagon video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Baghdad in which a dozen people were killed; that video is also believed to have been leaked by the Army intelligence analyst, Specialist Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland.
Read more: WikiLeaks Founder Has Afghan Massacre Video