Thursday, December 9, 2010

Russian official: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange should receive Nobel prize

An unnamed Russian official suggested Wednesday that detained WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be awarded a Nobel prize.

"Non-governmental and governmental organizations should think of ways to help him," a source in the Kremlin administration told RIA Novosti. "Perhaps he could be awarded a Nobel prize."

The remarks by the Kremlin official come after Assange was arrested Tuesday morning by London Metropolitan police on a warrant out of Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning. He is accused of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape.

According to one report, his two female accusers wanted to have Assange tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) after both had unprotected sex with him and did not originally intend to press charges.

Assange claims the charges against him are politically motivated.

Since releasing leaked US diplomatic cables, Assange has come under increasing pressure from governments across the globe, including the United States, which is currently investigating whether he can be prosecuted.

Frank La Rue, the United Nations representative for freedom of opinion and expression, said the United States has no grounds to prosecute Assange.

"In reference to what has been published in WikiLeaks I think there is no criminal responsibility for being the medium," said Rue. "This is one of the big debates in internet and up to now the general doctrine is that there is no responsibility just to transfer information."

Numerous US lawmakers and public figures, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rep. Peter King have compared him to a terrorist.

Along with releasing US diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks has published operating procedures for the Guantanamo Bay prison, secret documents from the Church of Scientology, Sarah Palin's email account contents, the "Climategate" emails, Bilderberg Group meeting reports, classified military footage of a helicopter attack in Baghdad, thousands of documents from the Afghan and Iraq war, and more.

Distinguished scholars and activists, such as Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer, signed an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia on Tuesday, urging the government to condemn calls for Assange to be assassinated.

Singer said there was a "clear parallel" between the WikiLeaks release of the Afghan war documents and the leak of the Pentagon Papers, a collection of top-secret Department of Defense documents on the history of the United States' involvement in Vietnam. Chomsky also compared the organization's efforts to the Pentagon Papers.

In a striking example of the type of information revealed by WikiLeaks, one leaked cable showed that the US military covered up the killing of dozens of civilians during a cruise missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009.

Yemen officials allegedly told their citizens that the local government was behind the bombings, admitting to their US contacts that they'd continue to lie for them, the cables showed.

Although numerous lawmakers have condemned the organization, Rep. Ron Paul has suggested the world needs "more WikiLeaks."

"In a free society we're supposed to know the truth," Rep. Paul said. "In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it."

Assange was refused bail by a British judge, but says he will fight extradition to Sweden.