June 1, 2012
THE United States has denied it is secretly preparing legal action against Julian Assange as supporters of the WikiLeaks founder explore fresh legal moves to stop his extradition to Sweden to face questioning over rape allegations.
The US ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, yesterday rejected as ''an invention'' claims that Washington was preparing a warrant for the arrest of Mr Assange over WikiLeaks' role in publishing thousands of secret US diplomatic cables last year.
''There is no such thing as a secret warrant. Period. They don't exist,'' Mr Bleich said.
On Wednesday, Mr Assange lost a British Supreme Court appeal that sought to prevent him being sent to Sweden.
But his legal team was granted 14 days to submit an application to reopen the appeal after it was argued a majority of the judges had based their decision on an interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a point of law not argued during the appeal hearing.
Geoffrey Robertson, QC, an Assange supporter, said there were ''technical possibilities'' to challenge the ruling, but he said they were unlikely to prevent eventual extradition.
Mr Bleich said the US had no interest or involvement in the British legal proceedings. ''This is a matter relating to UK and Swedish extradition laws, it had nothing to do with the US. I don't think we care at all,'' he said. ''People want to create a story but there's absolutely no basis for the US to be interested in this.''
Earlier Mr Assange's mother, Christine Assange, accused the Australian government of failing to give him proper support.
''[They have been] absolutely useless. In fact, contrary to help, they've done everything they can to smear Julian and hand him up to the US,'' she told the ABC.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, said Australian officials had made considerable efforts to ensure Mr Assange received proper consular support since his arrest in Britain in December 2010. He said consular staff in London had been present at all his legal hearings, had contacted lawyers when he was released on bail and had assisted him with family visits while in detention.
The opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, also accused the government of prejudicing Mr Assange's chances of a fair hearing. ''I'm deeply concerned by the prejudicial statements that have been made … the Prime Minister said that Mr Assange had done an illegal act when referring to the publication of the WikiLeaks cables. She's never identified any Australian law that Mr Assange has broken.''