Australia pressing US on WikiLeaks’ Assange

SYDNEY: Australia said Friday it was making representations to the United States about the potential prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his treatment there.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said Canberra was asking “plenty of questions” about Assange, an Australian citizen, though it could not interfere in European proceedings involving the WikiLeaks chief.

“The only channels that Australia currently has available are diplomatic channels and those channels are being used,” Roxon told Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, during an open session at a legal conference in Sydney.

“We certainly will be continuing representations particularly to the US government, which is where I think people are most concerned that there might be action being taken that would not be consistent with approaches that we would take here in Australia.”

Roxon’s comments were in response to Robinson asking whether Australia “has, or will be, asking more proactively of the US government about their intentions to prosecute Julian,” according to Australian Associated Press.

Assange is under house arrest in Britain awaiting judgment from the Supreme Court in London on whether he can be extradited to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Supporters fear if he is surrendered to Sweden he will be sent on to the United States to be charged over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of top-secret US diplomatic memos on his whistleblowing website.

Australia has said little about Assange’s case except to condemn his actions, and Roxon’s comments are a rare admission from a top official that representations are being made in Washington.

Roxon also said she was pressing British authorities on why Robinson, an Australian, was stopped as she boarded a flight in London this week and told she was on an “inhibited” list needing official Canberra approval to travel.

In response to questions about the incident from Robinson at the conference, Roxon said she was not on any watchlist kept by Australia and “we take very seriously any movement alert list that exists”.

“It seems that there were some challenges in which I can assure you and the audience that our government had nothing to do with,” Roxon said.“We were as surprised as you.”

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