06 December 2010

Assange Entitled to Consular Assistance...

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and generally persona non grata, is to be afforded consular assistance if and or when he is arrested. This was confirmed by Robert McClelland, Attorney General of Australia and has been reported widely.

Nevertheless, consular assistance is something Australian citizens arrested abroad are entitled to. I have not heard of any instances where consular assistance was denied. It is also worth noting that the current moves to arrest Assange relate to a warrant that was issued relating to allegations of rape and sexual molestation in Sweden.

In any event, the Australian government went to some lengths to express its displeasure at Assange's work with Wikileaks by condemning the release of the diplomatic cables as something that puts at risk innocent lives of those working for the US and her allies. This displeasure was stated as "grossly irresponsible" behaviour on the part of Wikileaks.

Despite this assurance of consular assistance, it would seem that the Australian government is working at full-steam ahead to assist the US in building a case against Assange for the "illegal" publishing of the 250,000 diplomatic cables. It is also pretty clear that the Australian government would be looking to build a case and prosecute Assange if he were to return to Australia.

It would appear that the freedom Assange once enjoyed is slowly but surely evaporating away before his very own eyes.

The question now is, "if Assange is arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and subsequently jailed, will this stop Wikileaks or other sites that might be tempted to do similar work?"


Multibrand said...

Hi Rob,

Diplomatic cable is a secret of country of embassy that issued them.
Leaking them is a crime, and those spreading them,like Wikileaks, are accessory to crime.

If they are leaked, that means there is someone in the embassy or foreign affairs dept who leaked them, or wikileaks has intercepted them.
But how come only wikileaks who is accused?

Just a thought.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

No arguments on that front. I agree that the diplomatic cables that were released / published were either classified as confidential or secret.

Yes, leaking them is potentially a crime. The question that I have posed here and elsewhere is whether there is a case to be made for protection of Assange as a whistleblower. This is separate from the allegations that he is facing for rape and sexual assault in Sweden.

My guess is that Wikileaks did not intercept these cables. My guess is that they were provided by a "whistleblower".

Wikileaks stands accused of publishing illegally obtained documents, at least as far as I can tell so far.

Multibrand said...

Hi Rob,

I am not sure about US laws, but I guess that you are right about the whistle blowers.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

My understanding is that the US are looking at this as a breach of provisions of the Espionage Act. I am also of the understanding that the breaches of that particular act attract some very serious consequences.

It will be interesting to see how protections of whistleblowers and those who then go on to publish leaked documents are dealt with under these sorts of laws.

Perhaps not all that well!