U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a 'high-tech terrorist’ who has put lives of people in jeopardy, and has said Washington is exploring what charges could be slapped against him.
“I would argue that it’s closer to being a high—tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers,” Mr. Biden told the NBC News when asked whether he thought Assange was a high-tech terrorist or a whistleblower akin to those who released the Pentagon Papers - a series of top-secret documents revealing US military policy in Vietnam.
“This guy (Mr. Assange) has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world,” he said.
The leak of secret papers has made it more difficult for the U.S. to conduct its business with allies and friends, Mr. Biden claimed.
“For example, in my meetings - you know I meet with most of these world leaders. There is a desire now to meet with me alone rather than have staff in the room. It makes things more cumbersome.
“So it has done damage,” the Vice-President said in response.
When asked if he considered Mr. Assange a criminal, Mr. Biden said: “If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the U.S. military that’s fundamentally different than if somebody drops on your lap“.
“We’re looking at that right now,” Mr. Biden said on the legal aspect of action against Mr. Assange.
Mr. Assange is currently in England, out on a bail after being arrested in connection with charges of sexual offence.
He is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces the sexual assault allegations by two women.
Mr. Assange said last week that it was “increasingly likely” that the U.S. would try to extradite him on charges related to the leaked cables.