London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has revealed that he has sent out 100,000 encrypted versions of secret files in case anything happens to him.
Assange acknowledged there had been death threats against him and his colleagues because of the damaging leaks. He told for the first time of the insurance policy he had put in place to ensure that his whistleblowing website will not be silenced, whatever drastic steps may be taken by his enemies.
“The threats against our lives are a matter of public record. However, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archive is in the hands of multiple news organizations. History will win."
Assange praised US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, 23, without confirming he was the source of the leaks. The young soldier has not been charged over the release of the US diplomatic cables, but is suspected of being the source of the latest leaks.
“If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier - Bradley Manning - is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero,” he said.
Assange also said he and colleagues were taking steps to protect themselves after death threats.
One of Assange`s lawyers said he would also fight any attempt to extradite his client to face questions over alleged sexual misconduct, adding that he believed foreign powers were influencing Sweden in the matter.
Answering questions online from an undisclosed location, the 39-year-old Australian said anyone making threats against his life should be charged with incitement to murder.
"The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower," Assange was quoted as saying on the Guardian website.
Britain`s Guardian is one of a number of newspapers around the world with early access to diplomatic cables seen by WikiLeaks.
Assange, who is reported to be somewhere in southern England, has his own legal woes.
Swedish authorities said information missing from a European arrest warrant they had issued against Assange for alleged sex crimes had been handed to British authorities.
"We sent it. They asked for complementary information and now they have it," Swedish Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander said.
WikiLeaks directed readers to web addresses in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland on Friday after two US Internet providers ditched it in the space of two days, and Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting its trove of leaked data.
The Internet publisher directed users to www.wikileaks.ch, www.wikileaks.nl and other sites after the wikileaks.org site on which it had published classified US government information vanished from view for about six hours.
Assange is under intense scrutiny worldwide after WikiLeaks began releasing a selection of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables passed to the whistleblowing website.
The latest batch reveals how the US regarded Gordon Brown as ``abysmal`` Prime Minister and were speculating about possible replacements as early as July 2008.
Assange is still thought to be lying low in the UK. He has apparently been here for two weeks. Scotland Yard detectives were thought to be preparing to detain the 39-year-old over two claims of rape and sexual assault in Sweden but they refused to comment yesterday.
Assange`s lawyer Mark Stephens has said any arrest warrant will be challenged in court.