Despite recent claims from American President Donald Trump that he knows “nothing about WikiLeaks“, it has been made quite clear that this is far from the truth, having stating that he “loves Wikileaks” in the past. While the media, however, have made Trump’s “love” of Wikileaks clear as they continue to attempt to link Assange to the Presidency and Russia, what hasn’t been made as clear is the fact that Trump has also threatened Julian Assange with the death penalty.
Speaking in what appears to be a promo for Brian Kilmeade’s radio show in 2010, Donald Trump was asked about Assange and stated that Wikileaks’ actions had been “disgraceful” and “there should be the death penalty of something” for their actions.
Trump is not the only United States politician to threaten Wikileaks and Julian Assange, with several well-known personalities either calling for the death of Assange or having used language that label the group as conducting “warfare” or being engaged in “terrorism” against the United States.
Speaking on Fox News in 2010, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that Julian Assange was a “terrorist”, “should be treated as an enemy combatant” and that Wikileaks should be “closed down permanently”. Others in the Republican Party that have described Assange as a “terrorist” include Mitch McConnell, Candice Miller and many others.
“Who ever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason and I think anything less than execution too kind a penalty. They put Americans lives at risk. They’ve put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk, and they knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents.”Mike Huckabee, 2010
Prominent Republican figures in the U.S. media such as Bob Beckel, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh have been calling for the death of Assange for some time, with O’Reilly making references to hanging Assange and Limbaugh suggesting “a bullet in the brain”.
Beyond the political and media spheres, a United States Air Force document from 2012 reveals that Assange and Wikileaks were been declared “enemies of the U.S.” by the military.
The opposition to Wikileaks’ work crosses party-lines, with prominent Democrats such as Joe Biden also labelling Assange a “terrorist” and Hillary Clinton stating that leaks were an “attack on the international community”, the language normally reserved for major terrorist attacks. Such was Clinton’s ire at Wikileaks, even before the DNC emails incident, that she suggested the use of a drone strike against the Wikileaks editor in 2010.
Figures within the United States government have stated that Assange will have no constitutional rights once within their territory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Assange “has no First Amendment privileges”.
There is a very real danger that should Assange be extradited to the United States by any other nation he will face new charges once on American soil, charges that could potentially see him facing the death penalty.
There have been calls for Wikileaks and Julian Assange to be treated as “enemy combatants” and “terrorists” from both across the political spectrum and across the rabid and influential media, there have been equal calls for the execution of Assange. He is not safe in the United states and Britain must abide by its international legal oblighations to protect Assange from the death penatly, serious violations of his human rights and the cruel and inhuman treatment he is likely to face in American custody.