Fri, Jun 01, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Australia cannot and will not protect Assange: Gillard

AP, Canberra

Australia has talked to the US about the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said yesterday that it cannot protect the Australian activist from other countries’ justice systems.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr revealed yesterday that he had discussed the concerns of Assange and his family with US officials. Assange claims that the US has already secretly indicted him for divulging US secrets, and will act on the indictment if Sweden succeeds in extraditing him from Britain.

“The US has said nothing to indicate they’re planning an indictment,” Carr said.

However, Gillard told Australia’s parliament yesterday that if the US did extradite Assange, the “Australian government cannot interfere in the judicial processes of other countries.”

She endorsed Carr’s comments, saying there was no advice from Washington that there was an indictment or a decision made to extradite.

Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed Assange’s extradition to Sweden, bringing him a big step closer to prosecution in a Scandinavian court.

However, a question mark hung over the decision after Assange’s lawyer made the highly unusual suggestion that she would try to reopen the case, raising the prospect of more legal wrangling.

Assange has spent almost two years fighting attempts to send him to Sweden, where he is wanted over sex crime allegations. He has yet to be charged.

He and his supporters have suggested that the sex allegations are a cover for a planned move to extradite him to the US, but US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich denied that the US had any interest in Sweden’s extradition bid succeeding.

“It’s one of those narratives that has been made up. There’s nothing to it,” Bleich said late on Wednesday.

Australian authorities have cooperated with the US in investigating WikiLeaks’ conduct. The Australians have concluded that Assange has broken no Australian law.

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