WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday accused the American government of conducting “a neo-McCarthyist witch-hunt'' against his organisation as it released confidential e-mails from Stratfor, a Texas-based private intelligence firm, claiming that American authorities had “a secret indictment” against him in place for “more than 12 months”.

The e-mails were attributed to Fred Burton, Stratfor's vice-president for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security who previously served as Deputy Chief of the Department of State's (DoS) counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

In a statement, WikiLeaks said: “In early 2011, Burton revealed in internal Stratfor correspondence that a secret Grand Jury had already issued a sealed indictment for Assange.”

It released three e-mails purporting to be from Mr. Burton. Mr. Burton's claims could not be independently verified.

In one e-mail (ID 375123, dated January 26, 2011), Mr Burton writes: “Not for Pub --We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect”.

Another (ID 1056988 dated December 7, 2010) says: “Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. S**** the terrorist. He'll be eating cat food forever.”

In the third (ID 373862 dated December 17, 2010), Mr. Burton says: “Just told SkyNews concerns for US extradition. More and more likely.”

This is said to refer to his remarks to SkyNews following Mr. Assange's release from a London jail where he had been detained on an extradition warrant from Swedish authorities over allegations of sexual assault brought by two women.

Mr. Assange said: “For over a year now, the U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder has been conducting a secret Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks. This neo-McCarthyist witch-hunt against WikiLeaks may be Mr. Holder's defining legacy. Any student of American history knows that secret justice is no justice at all. Justice must be seen to be done. Legitimate authority arises out of the informed consent of the governed, not Eric Holder's press secretary. Secret Grand Juries with secret indictments are apparently Eric Holder's preferred method of dealing with publishers who hold his administration to account. Eric Holder has betrayed the legacy of Madison and Jefferson. He should drop the case or resign. Should he continue, however, the Obama administration may not — Democrats and Republicans alike believe in the right to tell the truth.”

Mr. Burton's e-mails are part of the “Global Intelligence Files”, a cache of more than five million secret e-mails which WikiLeaks began publishing this week to show Stratfor's alleged links with the American government and large corporations.

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