Julian Assange tried to contact Hillary Clinton and the White House when he found that unedited U.S. diplomatic cables that were handed over to WikiLeaks should be put online, his lawyer told his extradition hearing in London on Tuesday.
Assange is being searched by the United States for 18 cases of US government computer hacking and espionage after allegedly conspiring with Chelsea Manning, then a U.S. soldier named Bradley Manning, to close up to hundreds of thousands of WikiLeaks secret documents Published for a decade ago.
On Monday, the US attorney announced that the 48-year-old Assange was being searched for crimes that had endangered people in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan who had helped the West, some of whom later disappeared.
The U.S. authorities say his actions in the ruthless publication of unedited classified diplomatic cables expose informants, dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders to risk of torture, abuse, or death.
Assange's lawyer Mark Summers outlined part of his defense, saying the allegations that he had helped Manning break a government password, promoted theft of secret data, and knowingly put lives at risk were "lies, lies, and more lies."
He informed London's Woolwich Crown Court that WikiLeaks had received documents from Manning in April 2010. He then signed a contract with a number of newspapers, including the New York Times, the British Guardian and the German Der Spiegel, to release edited portions of the 250,000 cables in November this year.
A witness from the mirror said the U.S. State Department was involved in suggesting editorial teams in conference calls, Summers said.
However, a password that gave access to all of the unedited material was published in a February 2011 book by Guardian reporters through WikiLeaks. Another German newspaper reported in August that it had discovered the password and had access to the archive.
A spokesman for The Guardian said the authors had been told that the password was temporary and the book did not contain details of where the files were located.
PEOPLE'S LIFE "AT RISK"
Summers said Assange tried to warn the US government, called the White House, and tried to speak to Secretary of State Clinton at the time. "If we don't do anything, people's lives are at risk."
Summers said the State Department then proposed that Assange call back "in a few hours".
The United States asked the United Kingdom to extradite Assange last year after he was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years over allegations of sex crime that have since been dropped.
Assange has been jailed in the UK for skipping bail and remains pending extradition requests from the United States
Supporters welcome Assange as an anti-establishment hero who exposed government abuse and argue that the action against him is a dangerous violation of journalists' rights. Critics viewed him as a dangerous enemy of the state that has undermined Western security.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)