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INTERNATIONAL > Australia 'preparing' for Assange extradition to US

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse

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Australia confirmed Saturday that its diplomatic post in Washington had been preparing for Julian Assange's possible extradition to the US but played it down as "contingency planning".
 
Trade Minister Craig Emerson 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 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 future, you wouldn't be standing flat-footed and unable to provide advice back to the government in Canberra," he said.
 
"I wouldn't read too much into it. People can attach their own probabilities or possibilities as to what the United States may or may not do in the future, but the fact is that there's no evidence, no evidence that the United States is seeking to extradite Julian Assange." The trade minister noted that the US could have sought Assange's extradition from Britain rather than waiting for him to arrive in Sweden and "obviously they haven't done that".
 
He wouldn't comment on the claim that Australia would not oppose Assange's extradition to the US, saying only that they would abide by "normal processes" and continue providing consular assistance.
 
Emerson also repeated that there was little the Australian government could do for Assange, who is holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questions over sex assault claims.
 
Assange fears Stockholm will turn him over to the US, and was granted political asylum by Ecuador on Thursday.
 
"Remember that this issue about Mr Assange between the UK and Sweden is not in relation to WikiLeaks, it's in relation to allegations of something that he may or may not have done in Sweden itself and that's up to the legal authorities in those countries," Emerson said.
 
"The legal processes have been followed, and... there's no particular role for Australia beyond ensuring that Mr Assange has reasonable consular assistance and that's what we're offering."

August/18/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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GERARD SELTZER

8/19/2012 4:05:42 PM

Assange published stolen documents that put U S nationals in the foreign service at risk. For that, he should stand trial in the US. The charges of rape and sexual harrassment require that he stand trial in Sweden.

James Austin

8/19/2012 10:51:17 AM

The cat was out of the sack from the moment Assange upset the US. There is no reson why the Swedish police cannot question him in the UK so their motives for wanting him extradited are questionable at the very least. The UK Government has a potentially long and expensive stand off on her hands in a no win situation. If Assagne is extradited and is taken to the US they lose, if he is kept in virtual captivity they lose and if he escapes, they lose by looking stupid.

Deniz Can

8/19/2012 9:31:51 AM

Politics as an outcome of power structure demonstrates whom it represents when there is a problem to solve. This case demonstrates that it represent elites not people. The “solution” for this problem comes from elites of the system not from people. US pressing a head to get Mr Assange for the crime, which she committed under closed doors. With a real democracy there is transparency and control mechanism, for which journalism exists. Asking for the head of a person is to kill this mechanism

Dennis Kavaz

8/19/2012 5:59:44 AM

In essence Mr Julian Assange for his research and publications should have wan the (bravery) Oslo noble prise; basically if there were more heroic men like Mr. Assange, corrupted nations, governments, corrupt officials and unfair undemocratic dealings would had stop throughout; as one great man 2000 years ago pleaded before his death {forgive them father for they not know what they do} To day 2000 years later we should know however right from wrong.

Erik Johansson

8/18/2012 4:43:10 PM

Britain, America´s closest ally, hasn´t extradited Assange. Then it won´t happen. Ever. Period.

Dennis Kavaz

8/18/2012 12:27:46 PM

The phenomenon Julian Assange (the Wikileaks founder) is to be extradited from Britain to Sweden; it is feared from Sweden he would be extradited to the U S there to be sent to his death? Yeah Britain and Sweden that held in the past free of speech values, yet they will deliver Assange (who merely expressed an opinion) to U S; If Assange is harshly punished for conveying his findings, Britain, Sweden and especially the U S will loos a lot more World wide then what they gain

Shah Hamdan

8/18/2012 12:25:08 PM

Finally cat is out of sack. Its not extradition from UK to Sweden but its to US. West double standards are now in neck of their own nationals. Australia supposed be a heaven for asylum seekers cant protect her own native citizen. Shame on Australia who cry loud for human rights and values but do nothing for her citizens.
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