Rudd prepared to intervene for Assange

Last updated 09:07 13/12/2010
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ASSISTANCE: Australian Foreign Minister is prepared to step in to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange get access to a laptop.

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Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has defended the legal rights of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who's preparing to face court in London.

Rudd said yesterday he's prepared to intervene to have a laptop computer provided for Assange in London's Wandsworth prison to help the Australian prepare his defence and obtain bail at his appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Following suggestions by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland that Assange may have his Australian passport cancelled, Rudd told The Australian in Cairo that any such decision is his as Foreign Minister.

The Prime Minister has said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act. Canberra has since said that was a reference to the original theft of the material by a junior US serviceman rather than any action by Assange.

The government has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate whether Assange has broken the law, a process McClelland said could take a long time.

McClelland said last week the government had considered cancelling Assange's passport, but Rudd says he's received no such advice and Assange is entitled to all the support any Australian citizen overseas would receive.

Assange has been moved to segregation for his own safety as he awaits Tuesday's hearing on a Swedish request that he be extradited to face sex charges.

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