The Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland yesterday said that it will be reviewing whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange violated any criminal laws in leaking US State Department documents.
"Well, again, certainly from Australia's point of view, we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached by the release of this information," McClelland said, referring to the gradual release of 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables online by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
Screenshot of Wikileak's cable viewer website (Screenshot by Colin Ho/ZDNet Australia)
"The Australian Federal Police are looking at that. But clearly, I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of that advice."
McClelland added that Australia will be following the United States' lead and is prepared to support any law enforcement action that may need to be taken following the leaks. When asked whether Assange's passport would be revoked and if his movements overseas will be restricted, the attorney-general said that it will need to investigate the matter further before taking action.
The leaks have shaken the US State Department, revealing bombshells such as the fact that the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton ordered clandestine surveillance of United Nations personnel.
"We're waiting for advice from the agencies as to appropriate course of actions that may be taken in response."
Wikileaks has claimed it was hit with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack prior to the leak of the documents. In addition, a US congressman has called for the classification of Wikileaks as a terrorist organisation.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith told ABC radio today that government officials will be "painstakingly" combing through each cable.
"We're now going through the painstaking job of searching all of the cables that are and proposed to be released to ensure that Australia's national security interests have not been adversely impacted upon," said Smith.
McClelland said that a whole-of-government taskforce has been formed to look at the "issues" arising from the leak.