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Australia not preparing to prosecute Assange

Australia not preparing to prosecute Assange
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First Published: Mon, Sep 05 2011. 04 39 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Sep 05 2011. 04 39 PM IST
Sydney: Australia on Monday said it was not planning to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after the whistleblowing site dumped thousands of unredacted US diplomatic cables on the Internet.
The government has slammed the actions of Australia-born Assange as irresponsible and has previously considered cancelling his passport.
But an Australian Federal Police investigation carried out in 2010 was unable to establish that WikiLeaks had broken any laws within Australia’s jurisdiction and there are no plans for a new probe.
“At this stage we are not planning on launching any further investigations,” a spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland told AFP.
The anti-secrecy website last week unleashed its full archive of US diplomatic cables online, confirming that 251,287 documents from US embassies around the world had now been posted on the Internet.
While WikiLeaks had previously edited the cables to remove details identifying sources and other sensitive information, the latest dump was unredacted -- prompting a furious response from the Australian government.
“On occasions before this week, WikiLeaks redacted identifying features where the safety of individuals or national security could be put at risk,” McClelland said in a statement on Friday.
“It appears this hasn’t occurred with documents that have been distributed across the internet this week and this is extremely concerning.
“I am advised that many of these documents contain identifying information. I am aware of at least one cable in which an (Australian spy agency) ASIO officer is purported to have been identified.”
Under Australian law it is a crime to publish, or cause to be published, the identity of an ASIO officer, McClelland said, adding the government was assessing the new material to see whether it would impact Australian interests.
WikiLeaks’ releases, in which American diplomats have spoken openly about foreign governments and their officers, have proven deeply embarrassing for the United States, and Australia announced a probe into the organisation in 2010.
But the Australian Federal Police dropped the inquiry in December, saying it would not be investigating WikiLeaks any further after finding no evidence of criminal activity it could prosecute.
WikiLeaks had been slowly releasing the leaked US cables since November, working with its media partners to sift through the information to erase the names of potentially vulnerable sources.
But in a tweet announcing the mass release of the remaining memos last Friday, it said: “Shining a light on 45 years of US ‘diplomacy´, it is time to open the archives forever.”
Assange is in Britain where he faces extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault. He denies the claims.
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First Published: Mon, Sep 05 2011. 04 39 PM IST
More Topics: Australia | US | Diplomacy | Julian Assange | WikiLeaks |