Editor’s note: A five-time Walkley award-winning journalist, Monica Attard spent 28 years with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where she hosted PM, the World Today and Media Watch. She left to start up The Global Mail where she was, until recently, the Managing Editor. In 1997, she published “Russia: Which Way Paradise?” about her time there as a correspondent.
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Still — through the fog of legal proceedings to get Assange to face questioning in Sweden and his claims that this is a ruse to allow the Americans to extradite him for espionage — there is evidence that a lot of Australians believe that, as one of them, he has a right to expect his government to protect him from the U.S. — if not the questioning in Sweden.
One suspects that even within a government that is doing a “class A” job of cutting him loose, there is concern that Assange’s imagination isn’t running wild when he claims the U.S. is preparing to indict him for espionage, and that it will move swiftly and decisively to extradite him from Sweden if, as the UK courts deemed before he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he returns there to face questioning over two separate instances of alleged sexual assault.
Asked whether he was aware, as Assange claims, that the U.S. is preparing an indictment against him, Foreign Minister Bob Carr told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) he put the question to U.S. officials and they answered in the negative. But he added: “I suppose you could argue they wouldn’t confirm it to us to the last moment. You could say that the Justice Department is proceeding on this and U.S. officials in state or in a diplomatic mission like in Canberra wouldn’t be aware of it. Certainly that can’t be discounted as a possibility.”