Australia may pressure Sweden to prosecute Julian Assange or others linked to his whistleblower website WikiLeaks if planned releases of military documents outlining the Iraq and Afghanistan wars pose a risk to serving forces.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland warned Mr Assange, who is an Australian citizen but runs his rogue website from Sweden, that he could not ”from the comforts of his office” release sensitive information that endangered people on the front line.
WikiLeaks published 77,000 Afghan war documents in July and plans to release another 15,000 related documents soon.
Earlier this month, WikiLeaks announced plans to release a ”massive cache” of classified US military field reports on the conflict in Iraq.
”Anything that puts those people who are serving their country and protecting our security at risk is entirely reprehensible, whether it’s done for notoriety, whether it’s done for commercial interests,” Mr McClelland said.
”If these acts amount to an offence, the people involved will most certainly be prosecuted.”
He said it could be difficult to determine the location where an offence had taken place when that offence was committed online, but Australia was determined to work with any country to ensure those responsible were caught.
”Usually it’s the country where [the offenders are] based that will take law enforcement action and these are the things we will certainly talk to international counterparts about …” Mr McClelland said.
”But in this day and age, it shouldn’t come down to an issue of law enforcement, people should exercise responsibility and appreciate that people are placing their personal safety at risk in the interests of defending their nations [and] promoting international security.” He would not comment on whether Australia had previously assisted other countries in pursuing Wiki-Leaks.
Co-founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, said earlier this week that WikiLeaks risked the lives of innocent people by releasing sensitive information.
”I think it is really important when we have sensitive information, that we do rely on responsible journalists to sort through it for us … it’s much better than dumping all kinds of crazy information online and [getting] people killed. I don’t think Julian Assange wants those people killed [but] if he irresponsibly follows the policy of releasing absolutely everything, it’s incredibly dangerous for those people.”
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned the release of classified Afghan war documents may endanger the safety of troops. with AAP.
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