Canberra monitors Assange saga
- Published: 18 Aug 2012 at 15.48
- Online news:
Australia has confirmed that its diplomats in Washington had been preparing for Julian Assange's possible extradition to the US but played it down as "contingency planning".
The Australian government says there's little it can do for Julian Assange, who's holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex assault claims. Trade Minister Craig Emerson on Saturday said the Australian embassy in Washington had been "getting prepared for the possibility of an extradition" but stressed that there was nothing unusual in diplomats bracing for all eventualities."The embassy is doing its job, just to be in a position to advise the government if it believed that an extradition effort was imminent. There is no evidence of such an extradition effort," Emerson told ABC television."All that was happening is that the post in Washington was doing some contingency planning in the event that such an eventuality arose."The remarks follow media reports on Saturday that Australian diplomats believe Washington is targeting Assange for possible prosecution on charges including espionage and conspiracy relating to his WikiLeaks whistleblowing site.Citing diplomatic cables from Australian officials obtained under freedom of information laws, The Age newspaper said Canberra's post in Washington was taking seriously the possible extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to the US.According to The Age, the cables showed that Australia had no objection to Assange's potential extradition and had requested early advice from the US on any decision to indict the former hacker or have him sent to the US.It claimed that both the prime minister and foreign minister had been briefed on the matter.Emerson confirmed that the Washington embassy had been exploring the extradition of Assange, an Australian national, as a potential scenario but he stressed that there was no evidence that the US was preparing to do so."You would want, as an embassy, to be in a position that if this were to arise hypothetically in the...
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