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'Assange entitled to consular help'

world Updated: Dec 06, 2010 09:35 IST

Australia would give consular help to WikiLeaks' founder if he is arrested abroad, the government said on Monday. However, the administration again condemned WikiLeaks' publication of secret US diplomatic documents, saying doing so threatens the security of the United States and its allies. Attorney General Robert McClelland said WikiLeaks was grossly irresponsible for publishing the documents because they could identify informants.

"Free speech is one thing, we all respect that, but we also respect the freedoms and the rights of people to live without fear," McClelland told reporters.

He said that as an Australian citizen, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is entitled to return to his home country and receive consular help from Australian officials if he is arrested overseas. But Australia is also obligated to help an international criminal investigation into Assange's activities, McClelland said. Australia has said it is assisting US authorities in an investigation into WikiLeaks, and is also examining whether the site has broken any Australian laws by publishing restricted information. Assange, who is in Britain, is also wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations including rape and sexual molestation.