Gillard rejects Assange’s legal help plea over Wikileaks disclosure of US cables

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CANBERRA - A day after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sought the Australian government’s help over the ongoing secret US diplomatic cables leak fiasco, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she would not intervene in the journalist’s legal obligations.

Gillard, however, said that Assange is free to return to Melbourne “unless there is some legal obligations keeping him overseas,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“There’s not anything we can, or indeed, should do about that,” Ms Gillard told Austereo today. They are charges and they’ve got to be worked through proper process,” the paper quoted her, as saying.

“I don’t go around issuing invitations to come to Australia, you are entitled to be here unless there is some legal obligations keeping him overseas,” Gillard added.

After voicing out that Assange should be charged, the Prime Minister sought to distinguish between the “moral force” of a whistleblower and the action of WikiLeaks in making public hundreds of thousands of classified US documents.

Whistleblowing put Watergate into the public eye, she said, adding: “That is conduct I can understand. WikiLeaks is something else. It’s not about making a moral case, it’s really about all of this information and just putting it up there and whatever happens happens. It’s an irresponsible thing to do.”

Assange, who is currently in London fighting an extradition order to Sweden over sexual assault charges, has urged Gillard to help him return to Australia.

Rob Stary, the defence lawyer who is a member of Assange’s Melbourne law team, had said yesterday that that the whistleblower website’s founder intended to return to Melbourne, where he earned huge support for his mission, to make world governments more transparent and accountable.

He had further said that the founder of the whistleblower website still holds an Australian passport and that there was no basis for his travel documents to be suspended or cancelled.

He, however, added that Australian government should assure him that he would not be handed over to the US on his return to Canberra. (ANI)

Filed under: Politics

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