Assange says no one has been harmed by site’s disclosure

No one has come to harm as a result of WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified documents, the site’s founder said Saturday, accusing his critics of opposing the revelations because of “middle-class squeamishness.” Julian Assange told an audience at the Hay literary festival in Wales that “there are no official allegations in the public domain” of anyone being hurt by the secret-spilling site’s disclosures. Assange said WikiLeaks had “played a significant role” in the uprisings sweeping the Arab world by publishing secret documents about those countries’ authoritarian regimes. But he said the site was not the sole or even the major factor in the movements. “It does look like we played a significant role in it. That said, the tinder of the Middle East was drying,” he said, crediting the spread of the Internet and the rise of satellite TV stations like Al-Jazeera with major roles in the uprisings. In response to critics who say WikiLeaks’ disclosures could endanger lives, Assange said major change involved risk and even deaths, as in the revolt that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.
“We will not condemn a nation to a dictatorship just because we are scared of a certain annoying middle-class squeamishness in the United Kingdom,” Assange said. U.S. authorities are investigating whether Assange and WikiLeaks violated U.S. laws by releasing tens of thousands of secret government documents, including daily logs from the Iraq war and classified diplomatic cables from U.S. missions around the world. U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is in a military prison, accused of being the source of many of the documents WikiLeaks has published. Assange, 39, was released on bail in Britain as he fights extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation against two women. He denies all charges and has appealed an extradition order, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial in Sweden. Britain’s High Court will hear the appeal next month. He flew to and from the Welsh border town of Hay by helicopter from a supporter’s mansion in eastern England, more than 200 miles (300 kilometers) away. He has to observe a nighttime curfew as part of his bail conditions. Assange has been working with a ghostwriter on a lucrative memoir. The book was due to appear in April, but British publisher Canongate postponed it at the last minute. Assange said the book would appear “when it’s ready.” Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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