The founder of WikiLeaks said on Friday he may apply for asylum in Switzerland, claiming he and his group have come under increasing pressure since releasing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military documents.
Julian Assange told reporters he was “still looking into the process” of requesting asylum, but was considering the Alpine country because “the Swiss have a history of fierce independence.”
In October, Sweden denied Mr. Assange’s application for a residence permit. The Australian had sought to establish a base for WikiLeaks in Sweden to take advantage of its laws protecting whistle-blowers.
Prosecutors in the Scandinavian country are still investigating rape and sexual molestation allegations against Mr. Assange by two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the allegations.
Mr. Assange was speaking on Friday at the United Nations in Geneva after a meeting organised by the Iranian Elite Research Centre, a U.N.-accredited group based in Tehran.
The WikiLeaks founder has urged U.S. authorities to probe possible rights abuses by American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq following the publication by his group of almost 500,000 secret U.S. documents about the wars there.
U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh dismissed the call on Friday, saying information in the leaked files was already known to U.S. authorities and hundreds of investigations into suspected abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq had taken place.