Australia's Kevin Rudd: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange not responsible for cable release
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Americans who gave the cables to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are to blame, not Assange. Assange could be extradited to Sweden, where he faces rape allegations.
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Australia’s foreign minister Wednesday blamed the US for the leak of some 250,000 classified diplomatic cables, saying the attempts to blame or prosecute Australian native and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the leak are misguided.
His comments come as Mr. Assange, who was arrested in Britain Tuesday on rape and sexual molestation allegations in Sweden, was denied bail. He is preparing to fight extradition to Sweden next week for questioning about the allegations.
Swedish authorities say that case is unrelated to his release of secret documents that have embarrassed the US and world leaders. US officials have said they are investigating whether to prosecute Assange.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said those efforts are mistaken. “Mr. Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network. The Americans are responsible for that,” said Mr. Rudd, according to Australia’s ABC News. "The bad people in this little exercise are the people who gave the information to him, because they're the people who breached the trust. They deserve to be chased and prosecuted."
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, was arrested in May and charged with leaking classified information after he claimed online to have passed cables and other information to WikiLeaks. But it is unclear if he was the source of all of 250,000 cables WikiLeaks says it has, of which it has released only a small portion.
In an interview with the BBC Wednesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley repeated the US demand that Assange return the cables, which the State Department considers “stolen property.” But as the Christian Science Monitor reports, that is now impossible. Five newspapers, including The New York Times and the Guardian, possess the entire archive of cables. And Assange uploaded an encrypted file, called both “insurance” and a “thermonuclear device” of the information age, to his website. It was then downloaded by tens of thousands of people, and Assange has threatened to release the code to unlock it if anything happens to him.