THE head of the US Senate’s powerful intelligence oversight committee has renewed calls for Julian Assange to be prosecuted for espionage.
The US Justice Department has also confirmed WikiLeaks remains the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, calling into question Australian government claims that the US has no interest in extraditing Mr Assange.
”I believe Mr Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States,” the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said in a written statement provided to the Herald. ”He has caused serious harm to US national security, and he should be prosecuted accordingly.”
Seeking asylum in Ecuador … Julian Assange. Photo: AP
Senator Feinstein’s call for the Obama administration to move ahead with plans to prosecute Mr Assange came as a US Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, publicly confirmed that ”there continues to be an investigation into the WikiLeaks matter”.
Mr Assange remains in Ecuador’s embassy in London while its government assesses his application for asylum.
In a statement made last Friday, one of Mr Assange’s British lawyers, Susan Benn, highlighted evidence of the existence of a secret US grand jury investigation targeting Mr Assange and other ”founders or managers” of WikiLeaks.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, claimed last week there was ”not the remotest evidence” of the US government wanting to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder.
On June 20, a US State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, denied any US involvement in diplomatic discussions relating to Mr Assange’s asylum bid or extradition to Sweden. Yet when asked specifically about the US government’s interest in Mr Assagne she said: ”We want to see justice served. Let’s leave it at that.”
Assange refuses to surrender
Despite a police order to leave, a spokeswoman for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he will remain at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has refused to comply with a police request to surrender himself to officers, saying he will remain inside the Embassy of Ecuador while his application for political asylum is processed.
The 40-year-old Australian has been inside the embassy in London since last week seeking political asylum as part of his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex offences.
He was served with a letter from London’s Metropolitan Police requesting that he surrender himself to Belgravia police station.
In a statement read out on his behalf, Assange said he had been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request, adding: “This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.”