Australian FM says US to blame for WikiLeaks dump

Assange: AP photo

Rob McGuirk
Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia – Australia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the U.S. government is responsible for the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic memos and cautioned against blaming the website that published the secret cables and its founder.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other American officials have said that WikiLeaks acted illegally when it posted the sensitive files — memos from American embassies around the world that have embarrassed Washington. The U.S. government is investigating whether Julian Assange, the website’s Australian founder, can be prosecuted for espionage or other offenses.

But Kevin Rudd said the blame lies with the leaker and the U.S. government’s failure to protect its secrets.

“The bottom line here is that the core of all this lies with the failure of the government of the United States to properly protect its own diplomatic communications,” Rudd told Melbourne Talk Radio on Wednesday.

If Assange, who has been arrested and jailed in London in an unrelated sex-crimes investigation, is also going to be pursued, he must be presumed innocent, Rudd said.

“To have several million people on their distribution list for a quarter of million cables — that’s where the problem lies and the person or persons responsible for their unauthorized release, who then gets engaged in the business of disseminating the content of that information, be it WikiLeaks, or anybody else, well that’s a matter to be tested by the police,” Rudd said.

Assange surrendered to British police Tuesday to answer an arrest warrant issued for his arrest in Sweden. He is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of having sex with them without their consent. Rudd that Australia would support Assange as it would any Australian arrested abroad.

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