Prime Minister Julia Gillard has sought to maintain the Federal Government’s position against Wikileaks, despite advice from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that the site’s publishing of US embassy cables had breached no domestic law.
Speaking at a media conference, Gillard sought to defend the government’s referral of the site and Assange to the AFP, arguing that the move was "appropriate".
“We have done that now, we have received the advice and the advice is that there have been no breaches of Australian law,” she said.
Gillard sought to condemn the site’s publishing of US embassy cables despite the AFP’s clearing of Wikileaks and Assange.
“There are a number of people who are fans of Wikileaks. Let me make it very clear: I am not,” she said.
“This is a grossly irresponsible matter, in my view. The release of all of this documentation has been grossly irresponsible and I stand by the remarks I have made about this previously.
“I would also say that whilst I know there are times when people are whistleblowers, when they are involved in circumstances where they believe something wrong is happening, and they have taken all reasonable steps to deal with it, and then they do convey confidential information publicly in order to get some public attention on that wrong, that is not the circumstance here with Wikileaks.”
However, the Australian government would supply Assange with consular assistance should the US seek to prosecute him following an investigation into breaches of its own laws, Gillard said.
“Should any of those investigations ultimately mean an Australian is involved, then an Australian involved in such a matter would be entitled to consular assistance,” she said.
Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has also sought to minimise the rebuff arguing that that AFP had noted “a number of offences which could be applied in the circumstances depending on whether all the elements of the offence could be proven.”
“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,” McClelland said in a statement.
“The Government remains extremely concerned about the unauthorised and irresponsible distribution of classified material.”