Australia backs US against WikiLeaks

2010-11-29 11:00

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Sydney - Australia said on Monday it would support the United States in any legal action against WikiLeaks, as the whistleblower site founded by Australian Julian Assange released thousands of sensitive US cables.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said WikiLeak's publication of diplomatic US memos could harm the national security interests of the US and its allies, including Australia, as well as "prejudice the safety" of those they discussed.

"Australia will support any law enforcement action that may be taken, the US will be the lead government in that respect, but certainly Australian agencies will assist," McClelland told reporters in Canberra.

Asked whether WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange was Australia's most wanted man, McClelland said: "The United States authorities are looking at law enforcement actions as the lead country, and we are providing every assistance and could be expected to provide every assistance."

McClelland said he received no request to cancel the passport of Assange, who has said that more than a quarter of a million diplomatic cables relating to "every major issue" in the world will be released in the latest data dump.

Criminal law 'breach'

But the attorney-general said he had asked Australian Federal Police to investigate whether the publication of the documents - one of which describes Australia as a "rock solid" but unimposing ally - broke any local laws.

"From Australia's point of view we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached by ... the release of this information," McClelland said.

"The Australian Federal Police are looking at that, clearly I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of that advice."

McClelland said the latest WikiLeaks release, which follows that of tens of thousands of US military files relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, would also be examined by a government taskforce.

The diplomatic cables will include hundreds sent by US officials in Australia, but their full content is as yet unknown.

- SAPA
Read more on:    wikileaks  |  julian assange  |  australia  |  us  |  security
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