A day after the U.S. vice-president Joe Biden called him a "high-tech terrorist’’ , WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday hit back likening his "persecution’’ to that suffered by American Jews in the 1950s and threatening to release damaging information about one of America’s biggest banks, thought to be Bank of America.
Mr. Assange also criticised The Guardian, which has worked with him in releasing the WikiLeaks documents, for publishing hitherto unseen details of allegations of sexual assault made against him by two Swedish women. He is fighting extradition to Sweden to answer the charges.
“The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application. Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison,” he said describing the newspaper’s action as "disgusting".
The Guardian said he was repeatedly asked for a response before the story was published. "His lawyers promised a full response by Friday, 4 p.m. They did not come through with a response, but we included a statement and other rebuttals Julian had made to the police,’’ a spokesman for Guardian and News Media said.
The spokesman added that the argument that papers involved with WikiLeaks cables should not report any criticism of him was "ridiculous".
"His lawyers have publicly accused the women who have made the rape allegations of being part of a `honey trap’ and have said they are part of a dark conspiracy. They can hardly complain if their claims, made out of court, are held up to journalistic examination,’’ he said.
Mr Assange made the remarks in an interview to The Times, his first newspaper interview since his release on bail last week. He admitted that there was no evidence that he was a victim of a ``honey trap’’ but insisted that the allegations were false.
Speaking to the BBC separately, Mr Assange said he was fighting extradition because he did not expect "natural justice’’ in Sweden.