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Terrorism & Security

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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Assange plans to fight his extradition to Sweden, reports the Daily Telegraph. But the Washington Post reports that it would actually be more difficult for US authorities to bring him to trial if he is in Sweden, rather than Britain.

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[T]o bring Assange to trial on American soil could be increasingly messy. Not only would the United States need to come up with creative charges that may be difficult to prove, it would also have to launch a laborious extradition request with Sweden, a country known for protecting asylum seekers.

In addition, if British authorities grant the Swedish request, Assange would be flown to a country that shares a significantly stricter extradition treaty with the United States. Swedish authorities said Tuesday that they would seriously weigh any request but noted that their treaty with the United States does not cover crimes that are political or military in nature.

The Post says that both the US attorney’s office in Alexandria and the FBI are conducting an “aggressive criminal probe” in an attempt to bring charges against Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act. But Espionage Act prosecutions are “highly complex” and such charges against Assange are not “imminent,” reports the Post.

Nonetheless, the US and other countries have exerted pressure upon WikiLeaks in other ways. Since it began leaking the cables, WikiLeaks has faced denial of service attacks on its website, and servers in the US and France refused to continue hosting the site. Banks and services like PayPal have also cut off their business with the organization.

Social media news website Mashable reports that those sites that cut off cooperation with WikiLeaks have since come under attack from hackers. The hackers succeeded in disabling the website of Swiss bank PostFinance, which froze Assange’s account, and brought down PayPal’s blog. The group of hackers said they would go after any organization that is “bowing down to government pressure.”

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