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WikiLeaks did not commit offence in Australia: police

WikiLeaks did not commit offence in Australia: police
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First Published: Fri, Dec 17 2010. 09 43 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Dec 17 2010. 09 43 AM IST
Sydney: Australian police said on Friday that WikiLeaks did not commit any criminal offence in the country by releasing secret US diplomatic cables which discussed sensitive government policies.
“The AFP (Australian Federal Police) has completed its evaluation of the material available and has not established the existence of any criminal offences where Australia would have jurisdiction,” the AFP said in a statement.
The Australian government ordered police to investigate whether WikiLeaks, founded by Australian Julian Assange, had committed a criminal offence in Australia.
The request followed comments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that the “foundation stone” of the release of secret US cables by WikiLeaks was “an illegal act that certainly breached the laws of the United States of America”.
Gillard has been criticised by pro-WikiLeak supporters and some members of her Labor government for possibly prejudicing Assange in any future criminal case.
WikiLeaks has provoked fury in Washington with its publications of secret US cables and vows to make public the 250,000 embassy documents it had obtained. The cables include details of overseas installations that Washington regards as vital to its security.
Assange was released on bail in Britain on Thursday while he awaits charges of sexual assault in Sweden.
Assange and his lawyers have voiced fears that US prosecutors might be preparing to indict him for espionage over WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents.
The US cables on Australia released by WikiLeaks have revealed intelligence agency briefings on terrorism in Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as more personal assessments of government members, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was described as a “control freak” focused on the media.
“The government referred the matter to the AFP as it was prudent to examine whether any Australian laws have been broken,” attorney-general Robert McClelland said.
“As has previously been stated, given the documents published to date are classified by the United States, the primary jurisdiction for any investigation into the matter remains the United States,” he said.
“The government remains extremely concerned about the unauthorised and irresponsible distribution of classified material.”
The AFP said it would investigate any further cable releases if criminal charges were suspected.
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First Published: Fri, Dec 17 2010. 09 43 AM IST