WASHINGTON: The US State Department says it agrees with the Australian foreign minister that the primary responsibility for the leak of diplomatic cables existed within the United States government.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said on Wednesday that the US government and whoever originally leaked 250,000 diplomatic cables should bear the responsibility for any security breaches – not the Australian WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
“We have acknowledged that. It was somebody within our government sworn under oath to protect the Constitution who violated that oath,” said State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley when asked to comment on Mr Rudd’s remarks.
“And we have an individual under arrest and that person will be held accountable for what we consider is a crime under US law,” Mr Crowley added.
He, however, said he was not in a position to confirm or deny that the US would also bring criminal charges against Mr Assange who was arrested in London earlier this week on charges not related to WikiLeaks.
Mr Rudd said legal liability rested with the initial leakers and Mr Assange should be protected from threats to his safety as the US stepped up pressure on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks.
His comments came after the Australian media published leaked cables in which US diplomats described Mr Rudd, then Australia’s prime minister, as “a mistake-prone control freak”, with a tendency towards making “snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government”.
Mr Rudd dismissed the criticism, saying that it was “like water off a duck’s back”.
Mr Assange faces extradition to Sweden for alleged sexual assaults and some US officials have indicated that they may try to bring him over to the United States on charges related to WikiLeaks.