Australian police probe Assange


Australian police probe WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange

Police are investigating whether any Australian law was broken by the latest leaking of confidential documents by online whistleblower WikiLeaks.

Attorney general Robert McClelland said he was not aware of a request from the US to cancel WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Australian passport.

A range of options were under consideration by Australian government agencies in response to the latest disclosure of classified US material, he said.

Mr McClelland told reporters there were “potentially a number of criminal laws” that could have been breached.

Defence minister Stephen Smith said later that a cross-government committee was studying the documents to see what damage could have been done by their release.

“We need to take it…step by step, but our starting and end point is essentially protecting Australia’s national interest,” Mr Smith said on Sky News television.

“This is an act which again one has no option but to absolutely condemn it. It potentially puts national security interests and it puts the safety and welfare of individuals at stake.”

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard last week condemned the planned leaks as reckless and potentially harmful to national security interests.

Mr Smith said the US ambassador had told the Australian government and relevant ministers about the leaks before their release.

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