WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, under fire for posting hundreds of thousands of secret war documents on the Internet, is living a cloaked life -- staying at hotels under false names, dying his hair and exchanging messages with a dwindling band of loyalists using encrypted cellphones.
Assange stirred the pot again Friday, posting nearly 392,000 Iraq war documents, revealing little in the way of dramatic new information but offering critical context
for the war and the U.S. role from 2003 through last year. The details indicate the number of Iraqi civilian deaths is likely higher than previously believed -- many at the hands of fellow Iraqi but also in tragic instances involving Americans. Assange, the whistleblower, called it the "most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record," the New York Times
Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, moves about like a hunted man, speaking barely above a whisper, sleeping on other people's sofas and using cash instead of credit cards, according to the Times report. "By being determined to be on this path, and to not compromise, I've wound up in an extraordinary situation..." he said in a recent interview in London.
He came into the public consciousness almost three months ago when WikiLeaks put up some 77,000 classified Defense Department documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Although there were no bombshells, Pentagon officials said the posted information could endanger U.S. troops and their Afghan allies.
In addition to alarming the U.S. and British governments with the two document dumps, Assange is still under investigation in Sweden on a personal matter, and has been abandoned by some disillusioned colleagues. They complain about his erratic behavior and apparent lack of awareness that the secrets revealed by WikiLeaks could cost lives, the Times said.
Officials in Sweden have yet to formally go forward with rape and molestation charges involving accusations made by two women about eight weeks ago. Assange says it's a "smear campaign," but the case is unresolved, neither approved nor dismissed by authorities.
"When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like," he said.
Filed Under: Iraq
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