Authorities still gunning for Assange, cables show

The Age reports: Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange remains the target of a major US government criminal investigation and the subject of continuing US-Australian intelligence exchanges, Australian diplomatic cables obtained by The Age reveal.

Australian diplomats have closely monitored the US Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks over the past 18 months with the embassy in Washington reporting that “a broad range of possible charges are under consideration, including espionage and conspiracy”.

Australian diplomats are dismissive of Mr Assange’s claims the US investigation is retribution for WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked US military and diplomatic reports. Instead they have highlighted US prosecutors’ claims that alleged US Army leaker private Bradley Manning dealt directly with Mr Assange and “data-mined” secret US databases “guided by WikiLeaks list of ‘Most Wanted’ leaks”.

Mr Assange will learn on Wednesday the British Supreme Court’s decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will facilitate his ultimate extradition to the US. He has also expressed concern that a successful appeal against extradition to Sweden will prompt the US to immediately seek his extradition directly from Britain.

Despite extensive redactions, the most recent instalment of Australian diplomatic cables released under freedom of information to The Age, show the US and Australian Governments continued high-level exchanges on WikiLeaks through last year.

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