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Video: Stakes raised in WikiLeaks investigation

  1. Transcript of: Stakes raised in WikiLeaks investigation

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: There are new developments tonight in the WikiLeaks investigation with word that the wanted man at the center of all this, the founder of WikiLeaks , Julian Assange , is talking to authorities; but at the same time warning of the havoc that he could unleash if he is arrested or harmed. We get the latest on all of this from NBC 's Peter Alexander who is at London 's Scotland Yard tonight. Peter , good evening.

    PETER ALEXANDER reporting: Brian , good evening to you. Tonight, Julian Assange 's lawyer tells NBC News that he and Assange were negotiating with British authorities a time and place to meet, perhaps as early as tomorrow, to discuss allegations of sex crimes in Sweden , allegations Assange denies. It is unclear whether Assange will be arrested at the time of that meeting. Still, the WikiLeaks founder has issued a strong new warning. It's become a high stakes international standoff between defiant computer hacker Julian Assange and the American government . The latest release marked by the government "not for Internet distribution" reveals what the State Department calls "critical infrastructure" and "key resources" overseas, including factories, pipelines and oil terminals "so vital" that if they were destroyed, it would "immediately affect the public health, economic security , and/or national and homeland security of the United States ." The catalog spans the globe from a cobalt mine in the Congo to an insulin plant in Denmark , as well as the sole provider of snake anti-venom in Australia .

    Mr. ERIC HOLDER (United States Attorney General): We have a very serious criminal investigation that's under way and we're looking at all the things that we can do to try to stem the flow of this information.

    ALEXANDER: Facing arrest for the allegations of sexual misconduct, Assange is threatening to release what his attorneys refer to as a thermonuclear device in the electronic age, a secret cache of uncensored documents that Assange says he'll exposed if he's arrested or his Web site is shut down. He told online readers of a British newspaper that he's distributed heavily encrypted files, believed to include documents on BP , Bank of America and Guantanamo Bay , to more than 100,000 people worldwide. They're coded for now, but Assange warned, "If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically." One file is reportedly named "insurance," locked by a 256-digit password. This evening, Assange 's own attorney was more measured.

    Mr. MARK STEPHENS (Lawyer for Julian Assange): There's been no implied threat in relation to the Swedish arrest warrant. WikiLeaks is an organization of many thousands of journalists across the planet, and the scheduled release of information from the bank of cables will continue.

    ALEXANDER: Assange is being isolated both physically and electronically, with a Swiss bank the latest financial institution to freeze assets or block donations to WikiLeaks . The site servers have been shut down in the US and France , but hundreds of mirror sites set up by WikiLeaks supporters have popped up online. Also tonight, NBC News has learned that jihadists with links to al-Qaeda have begun an online discussion about how to use the latest WikiLeaks information to exploit US security vulnerabilities . Brian :

    WILLIAMS: Thanks for that report tonight from London .

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