Australia says police investigating WikiLeaks boss

  • World
  • Sunday, 05 Dec 2010

MANAMA (Reuters) - Australian police are investigating whether WikiLeaks' Australian founder Julian Assange has broken any of the country's laws and is liable to prosecution there, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said on Saturday.

Washington is furious about WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of its confidential diplomatic cables, which have given unvarnished and sometimes embarrassing insights into the foreign policy of the United States and its allies.

"The federal police was asked by the Australian attorney-general some days ago to investigate whether or not Assange has breached any element of the Australian criminal law," Rudd told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Bahrain.

If Assange has broken any Australian laws, his case will be referred to the public prosecutor, Rudd said.

"The Australian government unequivocally condemns the action by any of those responsible for the unauthorised release of classified and confidential information and diplomatic communications between states," he said.

Assange, who is reported to be somewhere in southern England, said on Friday he and colleagues were taking steps to protect themselves after receiving death threats.

One of Assange's lawyers has also said he would fight any attempt to extradite his client to Sweden to face questions over alleged sexual misconduct.

Asked if the Australian authorities were considering withdrawing Assange's passport, Rudd said: "Any action on his passport would be entirely contingent on the recommendations provided by the Australian federal police."

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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