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Posted at 5:39 PM ET, 06/18/2010

Wikileaks founder in hiding, fearful of arrest

By Jeff Stein

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has gone into hiding, fearful of arrest by U.S. authorities, an Icelandic parliamentarian confirmed Friday.

“He’s just been following events in the U.S., and State Department press conferences and so forth, and they have been trying to get hold of him," Birgitta Jonsdottir, a close supporter of Assange in the Icelandic Parliament, said. “And obviously Julian Assange does not necessarily want to have a chapter written about any leaks.”

Authorities are interested in locating Assange following reports that an Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, recently transferred a huge volume of classified files to Wikileaks. Manning is now in military custody.

Meanwhile, Assange's whereabouts are “a mystery,” Jonsdottir told ABC World News for a segment to be broadcast Friday night, “but we’re in touch every day.”

Asked whether the Wikileaks founder was fearful of arrest, Jonsdottir said, “Yes, very much so.”

Jonsdottir also added to widespread speculation in recent days that Wikileaks was about to release a new video, this once showing an alleged “massacre” of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike.

She called it “worse than the Iraqi one,” referencing the video Wikileaks previously released showing a U.S. helicopter attack on Iraqi citizens that caused an international uproar.

“Hopefully” it will be released “very soon,” Jonsdottir said. “But for security reasons we choose not to give the exact time when we expect to publish it.”

“We’ll see what happens,” she said, “but something’s coming soon.”

In a recent e-mail to supporters, Assange said “the Garani massacre, which we are still working on, killed over 100 people, mostly children.”

Jonsdottir said the Icelandic Parliament last night “unanimously” passed legislation that would create an “international safe haven” for national security whistleblowers.

By Jeff Stein  | June 18, 2010; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military  
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Comments

Thank you for reporting this story.

But you wrote:

"Authorities are interested in locating Assange following reports that an Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, recently transferred a huge volume of classified files to Wikileaks. Manning is now in military custody."

What evidence do you have that Private Manning released huge volumes of classified files?

Just wondering if you are basing this on your own investigation or if you are merely reporting what the government says. If it is the latter, then I would add the word "allegedly", like you did with this sentence

"this once showing an alleged “massacre” of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike."

Posted by: indianabob | June 18, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Assange and WL should get the Nobel Prize.

Much more so than Obama, who got it for
nothing, and runs the US wars.

Posted by: Major_Variola_ret | June 18, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

My guess is one day a hacker will dump all the information from everywhere and every country out into the Internet.

Then I suppose we'll see who has the stomach for the naked truth. It would make for an interesting time...

Posted by: blackmask | June 18, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

It's disgraceful that a guy who feels he can single-handedly decide what should be classified or not is held as a hero.

Do you and he feel superior now? Has the killing of civilians stopped? (And parenthetically, how can it when we are at war and mistakes will happen?)

We have not crossed into a world where wars don't happen, peace is inevitable and all of a sudden muslim fundamentalists don't want to cut our heads off for not immediately converting. As terrible as war is, it is far better than rolling over to a world where we are intimidated into not defending ourselves because of unfortunate mistakes.

It sucks that innocent people die. It will suck even more when those innocent people are your mothers and sisters here at home. You take your pick.

Posted by: DC_Realist | June 18, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

When I voted for Barack Obama, I voted for
"the most transparent presidency in history," (his words) not the continued cover-up of US military violent excesses and the prosecution of those who make them public.

As if the United States is not going to pay the consequences of our military's recklessness someday....

It's beyond tragic that so many Americans continue to insist that our military are pristine, innocent superheros who can do no wrong.

The human suffering we cause is real and has real consequences.

Let's face it.

You go, wikileaks!

Posted by: tonymoco | June 19, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

DC Realist - we are NOT defending ourselves, this is the whole problem. We've partnered with scumbags and are currently killing innocent civilians in 4 known countries and have special ops going on in 75. Why? For what? We aren't defending America. We aren't giving a damn about spreading democracy. To keep the military-industrial complex and Big Oil in record profits? That sounds plausible.
Officially, 19 civilian religious extremists caused 911, why a decade later are we still bogged down in wars we won't win, preparing to start another one and engaging in criminal acts we've condemned other countries for for decades?
As I see you've bought into the if we don't fight them over there, we'll fight them over here. Are Iraqi, Afghan -- Muslim in general -- sisters and wives dog food compared to our own? Why is it we've lived for centuries with Muslim countries and didn't think they were all going to cut off our heads ? Why dont we realize our foreign policies have made us enemies almost everywhere and stop them.
My pick is this country sees what atrocities we've committed and what back door deals we've made with the despots of the world to keep this miserable empire and it's multiple wars of choice going and maybe enough citizens will stand up and say 'enough!'
It's not enough to say war sucks but better them than us. Free Brad Manning, Go Assange and Wikileaks -- give the man the nobel peace prize. A man who deserves it.

Posted by: mecormany | June 19, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather everything be out and on the table in plain view. We can learn to deal with facts. And we must.

I'm glad for the recent vote in Iceland to begin the process creating a news haven there. I wish them success.

With some effort and luck, Iceland's initiative may help a little in shifting the balance of power for investigative reporting (which has nearly lost the war) and be a small thorn in the side of imperious secrecy or the disingenuous abuse of the public's good name.

We need to see _Truth_ win a few battles, after so many terrible lies have been allowed to stand unchallenged until all is forgotten or no one cares anymore. Just to keep up the hope for better, if no other reason.

To DC_Realist: Benjamin Franklin came into possession, as a postmaster, of private letters between aristocrats in the States and in England and chose to publish them because of their content. He was called to account in front of Parliament and made the trip to do so. Largely upon the weight of those letters and his experience in Parliament he changed his mind and decided to support separation from England. It was _that_ important. You imagine that "individuals" should not be allowed to make these decisions. But other individuals are making the decisions for secrecy and even conspiracy where it serves them. And we need to counter that dictatorial power in some way. I'm very glad that the concept of investigation and exposure, even when a few oligarchs or shadow actors use every means they may to oppose it, has gained some more traction.

Posted by: trapezium | June 19, 2010 4:55 AM | Report abuse

IndianaBob: The essays says "following reports that..." - there's no need for "allegedly".

Posted by: dpb23 | June 19, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

trapezium said

"To DC_Realist: Benjamin Franklin came into possession, as a postmaster, of private letters between aristocrats in the States and in England and chose to publish them because of their content. He was called to account in front of Parliament and made the trip to do so. Largely upon the weight of those letters and his experience in Parliament he changed his mind and decided to support separation from England. It was _that_ important. You imagine that "individuals" should not be allowed to make these decisions. But other individuals are making the decisions for secrecy and even conspiracy where it serves them. And we need to counter that dictatorial power in some way. I'm very glad that the concept of investigation and exposure, even when a few oligarchs or shadow actors use every means they may to oppose it, has gained some more traction."

I don't doubt that there is a fine, ever-changing line between what the public should know and what governments are better off keeping secret. The issue is whether the Wikileaks guy is some sort of hero for arbitrarily releasing anything and everything simply because he believes that his own crusade is more important than the reasons the government has for keeping some things private. Generally the posts here assume secrecy is bad. I don't. I'm glad our intelligence agencies and military can fight without having TMZ there to showcase every goof, screw-up and downright disaster.

The world is messy. No one controls it. We will make mistakes. We don't have to broadcast every mistake to the world, however. That's why I'm a realist.

PS -- Ben Franklin was a good man, but I'm not sure what was in those letters and how that relates to wholesale declassification efforts of our military secrets to the world. I doubt strongly that Franklin would have been in favor of such an action.

Posted by: DC_Realist | June 19, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

dpb23: That is a fair point you make. My first reading of the sentence was that the author was making a claim of fact (Manning leaked classified cables), but I can see where what he meant was there were reports of him leaking the cables.

Thanks. Support wikileaks here:
http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Special:Support

Posted by: indianabob | June 19, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

DC realist: No one is arguing that there are not legitimate reasons to classify material. But we get into danger when governments use classification to hide atrocities.

You also write that "just wait til one of those is your mother...". We are currently dropping our "freedom bombs" on 4 countries, none of which have directly attacked us. A CNN article recently reported that "the number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period."

link: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/05/26/terrorism.document/index.html?iref=allsearch

Any chance that our "freedom bombs" are having the wrong effect? If "they hate us for our freedoms" do we just keep getting freer and freer so that causes more and more attacks?

Terrorism is a matter handled by law enforcement, not war. Unfortunately both Democrats and Republicans don't get this.

Posted by: indianabob | June 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Repetition of "MyLai" in the 21st century, isn't it?

If American history is of any help,
the top leaders in the armed forces should consider a proactive, innovative approach to handle such evidence, as soon as the evidence surfaces.
Court-martial those who, in fact, and not just slanted to have, committed unjustifiable violence against civilians.
Release the evidence of defensible mistakes, along with explanations of foundational evidence why some deaths, though regrettable, should be excused, and should be considered justifiable.
Apologize where appropriate, even if just for the regrettable deaths and not for an admission of fault; defend what's justified and should be excused.
Damage control, after the evidence is leaked, just can't cut it.

If even Google can't prevent hackers based on their advanced technology, it's unrealistic to expect the Pentagon to be free from leaks. It's just the phenomenon of the 21st century technology! I guess nobody needs to risk his or her life 9 times before reaching the secret vault anybody---except when watching an old James Bond movie video.

Posted by: Joallen8 | June 19, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

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