Assange probe not political: Rudd

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has said any action taken against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will stem from legal processes not political pressures.
Written by Darren Pauli, Contributor

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has said that any action taken against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will stem from legal processes, not political pressures.


(Innocence/Guilt image, by fyrfli, CC BY-ND 2.0)

He told reporters today that the hunt for Assange is a matter for "due process", involving the Australian Federal Police and the Attorney-General's (AG) Department.

"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."

Rudd said it was not his place to comment on the "legality" of Assange's plight and referred questions to the AG about whether consular assistance will be provided to Assange.

But co-director of the University of Sydney Centre for International Law, Ben Saul, said that Assange and Wikileaks has not broken local law, and called for the government to "punch harder than the US believes us capable".

"Our own Attorney-General asked the federal police to investigate Assange. Australia finds itself in step with the criticisms of Iran, China and Turkey," Saul wrote in a Fairfax opinion piece.

"There is no legal duty on ordinary Australians, here or overseas, or foreign media entities not to disclose information that may prejudice Australia's security or the security of foreign governments."

He said, however, that Australia would be required to apprehend Assange if he returned to the country because of the arrest warrant issued by Sweden for alleged rape charges.

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