US brands Assange an 'enemy of the state' - just like al-Quaeda
Even paranoids have enemies - and it seems that Julian Assange may have strong grounds after all for believing he'll be mistreated or even killed if he's extradited to the US.
Declassified Air Force documents show that the US military has designated him as an enemy of the state, putting him in the same legal category as members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The documents even suggest that military staff who contact Wikileaks could also face the death penalty.
They relate to an investigation of a US Air Force analyst, who was based in the UK at the time, and who attended Assange's court hearings. They describe her meetings with pro-WikiLeaks activists in London as 'communicating with the enemy', an offense which can carry the death penalty.
"The term 'Communicating with the Enemy' would appear to show that the US government term Mr Assange and WikiLeaks the 'enemy'. By deeming them the 'enemy', they can be treated under the laws of war which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial etc," says Wikileaks.
There's some ambiguity, in that it's possible that the military doesn't in fact regard Assange and Wikileaks as the enemy, but merely as a conduit.
But, says Wikileaks, "This too opens up an array of possible attacks on WikiLeaks by the US government and means that all media organizations now risk having suspected sources being executed because communicating with media would mean communicating with the public, which is communicating with the enemy in this interpretation."
Yesterday, Assange spoke to the UN via a satellite link from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he's currently holed up. He called on the US to call a halt to its 'persecution' of WikiLeaks and its sources.