‘Assange has not broken Australian law’December 17th, 2010 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, Dec 17 (IANS) Neither the whistleblower website WikiLeaks nor its Australian founder Julian Assange have committed any crime in Australia by releasing official US documents, police here said Friday.According to the Sydney Morning Herald, police said: “The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has completed its evaluation of the material available and has not established the existence of any criminal offences where Australia would have jurisdiction.”
“Where additional cables are published and criminal offences are suspected, these matters should be referred to the AFP for evaluation,” the police said in a statement.
The government had asked police whether Assange had committed any criminal offence in releasing thousands of classified US government cables through the WikiLeaks website.
This comes despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard labelling the actions of the whistleblower website “illegal” two weeks ago, the daily said.
Gillard later told journalists the release of US cables by WikiLeaks was a grossly irresponsible act. However, she said Assange would have access to full consular assistance.
“Obviously, as an Australian citizen, Assange is entitled to the consular assistance we provide to Australian citizens around the world when they find themselves in legal circumstances,” Gillard said.
She said the government had believed it was appropriate to refer the matter to the federal police to see if there had been any breaches of Australian law.
Gillard said the foundation stone of the leaks was an illegal act, the initial taking of the documents in breach of US law.
That was not done by a journalist but by an individual with access to that confidential material, she said.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said earlier the government had received the advice from the federal police.
Based on the information available to date, the federal police have not identified any criminal offences where Australia has jurisdiction and as a result have not commenced an investigation, he said.
“As has previously been stated, given the documents published to date are classified by the US, the primary jurisdiction for any investigation into the matter remains the US.
“The government remains extremely concerned about the unauthorised and irresponsible distribution of classified material,” he said.
Assange was released Friday on bail in London, after being placed on remand following a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden. He is wanted there in connection with allegations of sexual assault. He denies the allegations.
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Tags: australian citizen, australian citizens, australian federal police, breaches, confidential material, consular assistance, criminal offence, criminal offences, foundation stone, illegal act, irresponsible act, julia gillard, julian assange, leaks, legal circumstances, morning herald, robert mcclelland, sydney morning herald, whistleblower, wikileaks