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Posted by on Dec 13, 2010 in International, Law, Media, Places, Politics, Science & Technology, Society, War | 0 comments

WikiLeaks: Australia’s Growing Support For Son Of Soil

Australian PM Julia Gillard

The US administration’s clumsy handling of the WikiLeaks affair is endangering America’s traditionally strong ties with Australia, its trusted comrade-in-arms. In fact Australia’s prime minister Ms Julia Gillard and the Aussie foreign minister Kevin Rudd have begun to sing different tunes. (Kevin Rudd was removed from his post as prime minister owing to an internal coup and Ms Gillard became the prime minister).

While prime minister Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, foreign minister Kevin Rudd yesterday mounted a strong defence of Australian journalist Julian Assange‘s legal rights as the WikiLeaks founder prepared to face court in London tomorrow night.

Mr Rudd said he was prepared to intervene to have a laptop computer provided for Mr Assange in London’s Wandsworth prison to help the Australian prepare his defence and obtain bail at his appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court, reports news.com.

“Following suggestions by Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland that Mr Assange may have his Australian passport cancelled, Mr Rudd said any such decision was his as Foreign Minister.

” ‘Under law, I’m responsible for the Passports Act, therefore the decisions concerning the withdrawal or otherwise of passports rests exclusively with the foreign minister based on the advice of the relevant agencies,’ Mr Rudd told The Australian in Cairo.

“Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek told Sky News’ Australian Agenda the leaks were very serious and threatened the workings of international diplomacy and the quality of advice public servants were willing to give.

“She broke ranks with some of her factional colleagues in the Labor Left, who told The Weekend Australian the government had overreacted to the leaks and should stop treating Mr Assange like a criminal.” More here…

More Labor MPs yesterday attacking the Prime Minister’s language and declaring their support for WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange and free speech, reports The Australian.

“Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, but Canberra has since insisted that was a reference to the original theft of the material by a junior US serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange.

“Labor Left MP Maria Vamvakinou from Melbourne yesterday told The Australian the government had read the public mood wrongly on the issue and said she supported the release of the classified material. ‘The leaked material, I believe, the public should know about and have the right to know about this information. I believe that very strongly,’ she said. ‘If you believe in freedom of speech, you can’t pick and choose.’

“The ALP’s parliamentary Left national convenor Doug Cameron said he believed in freedom of the press and the right to publish material without Mr Assange being depicted as a traitor.

“West Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt said she wanted Mr Assange to get full consular assistance and said he should not be prejudged. “I hope that he doesn’t turn into the next David Hicks for the government.”

“Laurie Ferguson, a factional colleague of Ms Gillard, who told The Weekend Australian the government had overreacted to the WikiLeaks release of secret US documents, yesterday went further.

“He said if this kind of information was published before the Iraq war, history could be different. ‘It’s within living memory that there was a war in Iraq based on false information. Who knows if we had more information on that, what would have happened,’ he said.” More here…

Here’s my earlier post on WikiLeaks…