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Greek-Australian Author Backs Assange

wikileaks defendersGreek-Australian author Christos Tsiolkas has signed an open letter addressed to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, calling for Australia to condemn death threats against Wikileaks.ch founder Julian Assange.

"We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks," goes the text of the letter, which quotes conservative columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner as saying "we should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him.”

The letter continues: "we believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world."

It is signed by authors, academics, lawyers and historians from around the world.

Assange is currently in a jail cell awaiting his next court date in extradition hearings held in London. He is wanted for questioning on allegations he sexually molested two women in Sweden. Assange denies the allegations, saying they are a smear campaign to discredit him, and that he had 'consensual but unprotected sex' with the women.

His website Wikileaks.ch is currently releasing 251,000 secret cables obtained from US embassies in different countries. The publication of the cables has landed him in the middle of a storm of criticism from various quarters, including the US government and Australian diplomats like Alexander Downer. Several credit card companies have cut off services to Wikileaks, including Mastercard and Visa, saying they will wait until the situation is resolved before resuming service.

In the Internet world, hacktivists who support Wikileaks hacked into Mastercard's website and shut it down for over five hours, saying that 'Freedom of speech is priceless..for everything else there's Mastercard.'

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