WikiLeaks's Assange attacks 'smear campaign'
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is accusing his detractors of conducting a successful smear campaign to destroy his reputation, but says his organization will "work around it."
"This has been a very successful smear campaign so far," Assange said Friday from Bungay, England, where he is currently out on bail.
"But I think its days are numbered, and I think people are starting to wonder, 'Is what is claimed really true? And if it is true, where's the evidence?'"
The 39-year-old Australian is fighting extradition to Sweden, where police want to question him on allegations of sexual assault.
The United States also has legal interests in Assange. The New York Times reported Friday that federal prosecutors hope to determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge Assange as a conspirator in the leak of classified U.S. diplomatic documents.
Until now, he has been viewed "just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them," the Times reported in the article, for which justice officials declined to discuss grand jury activity.
"The whole damn thing is kept secret," Assange said, speaking on NBC's Today.
"Something is wrong in the United States that such an investigation against me and, in effect, my organization … is to be conducted in secret."
On Thursday, Assange told BBC's Newsnight he did not know "precisely who is behind" the smear campaign.
"My feeling at the moment is that a number of different interests — personal, domestic and international — are all sort of feeding from this process, and encouraging it and pushing it along," he said.
Assange was arrested in Britain on Dec. 7 on an arrest warrant issued by Sweden after two women alleged they were sexually assaulted by the founder of the whistleblowing website.
He has denied the allegations.
Assange's arrest followed WikiLeaks's publishing last month of 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables, and his supporters suspect the sexual assault claims are politically motivated — a charge Sweden denies.
'No evidence whatsoever'
Assange said Thursday he is "not aware of the inner detail of these [sexual assault] allegations," and has seen "no evidence whatsoever" of the "incredible claims" made by prosecutors.
"We have done everything by the book," he said."We have tried as hard as possible to set up a situation where we can clear my name of these allegations. But what we have not seen is a provision of any evidence or material to allow us to do that."
As he did with NBC, Assange spoke to the BBC from the grounds of Ellingham Hall, the estate in where he is to remain while out on bail.
He was released after a failed appeal by prosecutors working on behalf of Swedish authorities to have bail denied.
"It's a very Orwellian situation, in which I am placed under high-tech house arrest," Assange said of his bail conditions.
"As someone who has always proclaimed their innocence, it is something that I find disturbing," he said. "It is a disturbing situation for me to be in."
It is also "a gross impediment to my work," he said. "Nonetheless, as an organization, we can work around it."
He said his whistleblowing website would soon release sensitive information about banks, including the Bank of America.