WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday that former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin were emblematic of an "idiot trying to make a name” with calls for the execution of whoever leaked secret U.S. documents to his organization. He said people calling for violence against him should be prosecuted for incitement to murder.
Assange also told msnbc cable television that the world was facing “a new type of digital McCarthyism ... being pushed from Washington” in an attempt to quash his organization’s reporting, and he called an Army soldier suspected of helping WikiLeaks a "political prisoner."
Answering allegations by Vice President Joe Biden and others that WikiLeaks was a terrorist organization, Assange said that no one has "ever been physically harmed" by WikiLeaks' release of secret documents.
"Whoever the terrorists are here, it's not us," Assange told msnbc.
Assange said there had been calls by politicians and "shock jocks on TV" for his assassination and the kidnapping of his staff. He called it "the threat of violence in order to achieve a political end ... and that is the definition of terrorism."
Asked by msnbc's Cenk Uygur how he would respond to comments by Huckabee and Palin about his organization, Assange said: "It's just another idiot trying to make a name for himself."
"If we are to have a civil society, we cannot have senior people making calls on national TV to go around the judiciary and illegally kill people," he said. "That is incitement to murder."
Assange, an Australian national, is under house arrest at a British mansion near London, facing a Swedish warrant seeking his extradition for questioning on charges of rape. Assange has denied the allegations.
WikiLeaks' release of secret diplomatic cables has caused a diplomatic crisis and laid bear some of the most sensitive U.S. dealings with governments around the world. It also has prompted an American effort to stifle WikiLeaks by pressuring financial institutions to cut off the flow of money to the organization. U.S. Attorney General Eric holder has said his department is also considering whether it can prosecute the release of information under the Espionage Act.
In other WikiLeaks developments Wednesday:
Assange told msnbc that WikiLeaks was unsure "if this young man is our source or not. Our technology is set up so that we don't know that."
"If we are to believe the allegations, then this man acted for political reasons. He is a political prisoner in the United States. ... Civil rights organizations should be investigating the conditions under which he is held."
He called allegations that WikiLeaks had conspired with Manning "absolute nonsense."
"That's not how our technology works, that's not our our organization works," Assange said. "I never heard of the name of Bradley Manning before (seeing it in) the media."
But Assange offered a warning to other media that if a conspiracy charge could be levied against him, then it could be levied against any reporter who works confidential sources to get sensitive information.
"That's going to take out all of good government journalism as it occurs in the United States," he said.