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Australia to give consular help to WikiLeaks founder

2010-12-06 14:44

CANBERRA - Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Monday said the country will give consular help to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he is arrested abroad.

Global police agency Interpol last week issued an arrest warrant for Assange on a rape charge originating from Sweden, shortly after WikiLeaks published more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic documents.

Over the weekend, Assange, who is in Britain, said he would like to return to Australia.

McClelland condemned WikiLeaks' publication of secret US diplomatic documents, saying doing so threatens the security of the United States and its allies. He added that WikiLeaks was grossly irresponsible for publishing the documents, because they could identify informants.

However, McClelland said Assange is still "entitled" to come home and could also obtain consular assistance overseas.

"But equally he is aware that Australia has obligations pursuant to agreements we have signed that ensure we will provide mutual assistance to countries investigating criminal law enforcement matters," McClelland told ABC News on Monday.

"I would again just caution people to come back and really see what's going on here."

"There is every prospect that national security-sensitive information will be published that will actually prejudice the safety of individuals."

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police is investigating whether Assange has committed any Australian crimes, but McClelland said it stands to reason he would most likely face prosecution for any alleged offenses in the US.

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