At least there are some rational and strong political voices in Australia:
Key independent MP and former whistleblower Andrew Wilkie has accused Julia Gillard of trashing freedom of speech and ignoring Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s right to be presumed innocent.
As the fallout from the WikiLeaks revelations continues, the Tasmanian federal crossbencher also said today the Prime Minister had shown contempt for the principles of the rule of law, sovereignty and freedom of speech.
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks to Fairfax newspapers revealed that Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib provided inside information to the US embassy in Canberra on the ALP and the Australian government.
Ms Gillard had initially described the WikiLeaks website as “illegal” but has subsequently toned down her language, describing the release of thousands of confidential embassy cables as “grossly irresponsible”.
“It would not happen, information would not be on WikiLeaks if there had not been an illegal act undertaken,” she said at a press conference earlier this week.
But Mr Wilkie declared this morning that “in talking about ‘illegal acts’, the Prime Minister has ignored Mr Assange’s presumption of innocence and potentially comprised any chance of a fair trial, if in fact he is even charged over publishing this information”.
“Moreover, Julia Gillard has shown contempt for Australia’s sovereignty by defaulting to the interests of the United States of America above the interests of an Australian citizen.
“She has also trashed the principle of freedom of speech because, although we might not agree with Julian Assange’s actions, we must always respect the right to speak out so long as lives and national security are not placed at risk.”
Mr Assange was denied bail earlier this week by an English court and is facing extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault.
But a British judge says the WikiLeaks founder may be released from jail next week unless Swedish prosecutors produce evidence in London to back up their allegations.
Senior district judge Howard Riddle said Swedish authorities would need to show some convincing evidence if they wanted to oppose bail for the 39-year-old Australian when he appears in court next Tuesday to oppose extradition to Sweden.