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Assange plots Gillard defamation suit

Julian Assange is considering suing Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation over comments she made stating that the whistleblower had "acted illegally" by leaking 230,000 US diplomatic cables, according to a report in The Australian today.
Written by Darren Pauli, Contributor on

Julian Assange is considering suing Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation over comments she made stating that the whistleblower had "acted illegally" by leaking 230,000 US diplomatic cables, according to a report in The Australian today.

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"I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the Wikileaks website," Gillard reportedly told Fairfax Radio. "It's a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do."

Gillard's statements were made outside of parliament and are therefore not subject to parliamentary privilege, which would have exempted her from a defamation suit.

Assange's UK-based solicitor Mark Stephens told The Australian that Assange's legal team is mulling a law suit against the Prime Minister and will seek consular assistance from Australian authorities in Britain and Sweden, where a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Gillard's office declined to comment.

The news comes a day after Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the consideration that Assange had breached Australian law by leaking the cables is "not political".

He told reporters that Australia's reaction to Assange and the leaked cables will be handled by "due process".

"This country is a nation of laws and we have firm independent legal procedures … at complete arm's length from the political process," Rudd said. "There is no role for politics in this."

Attorney General Robert McClelland said police are investigating if Wikileaks has broken local laws.

Another lawyer for Julian Assange said that she is arranging a meeting with UK police.

Jennifer Robinson said that a European arrest warrant for her client had been received by UK authorities. Assange is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault against two women in Sweden.

Robinson said she was making arrangements with police for a meeting, but wouldn't confirm when it would be held or reveal where Assange was presently staying.

"I can't disclose his whereabouts but he certainly can be contacted through us and ... we are having that communication with the police at present," she told ABC Television.

Assange "vehemently" denied" the sex assault allegations.

"As we have maintained the entire time and as demonstrated by his numerous voluntary offers for cooperation with Swedish prosecuting authorities, he is very keen to clear his name," Robinson said.

For more Wikileaks coverage, click here.

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