Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she cannot – and will not – make Julian Assange’s legal problems go away.
But like any Australian citizen, she says the WikiLeaks founder is welcome to return home once they do.
Mr Assange, in London fighting an extradition order to Sweden where he awaits sexual assault charges, has appealed to Ms Gillard to help him return to Australia.Advertisement: Story continues below
“There’s not anything we can, or indeed, should do about that,” Ms Gillard told Austereo on Wednesday.
“They are charges and they’ve got to be worked through proper process.”
Mr Assange would like to return to Australia immediately, but Ms Gillard said it was not the fault of the Australian government that he couldn’t.
“I don’t go around issuing invitations to come to Australia, you are entitled to be here unless there is some legal obligations keeping him overseas.”
Mr Assange’s mother has lashed out at the prime minister, labelling her a sycophant of the United States which is trying to pursue legal action over the WikiLeaks revelations.
Ms Gillard, who has echoed the view that Mr Assange should be charged, denied she was under the thumb of the US.
“I haven’t got any heat in that sense,” she said.
Ms Gillard sought to distinguish between the “moral force” of a whistleblower and the action of WikiLeaks in making public hundreds of thousands of classified US documents.
Whistleblowing put Watergate into the public eye, she said.
“That is conduct I can understand. WikiLeaks is something else.
“It’s not about making a moral case, it’s really about all of this information and just putting it up there and whatever happens happens.
“It’s an irresponsible thing to do.”