1 Dec 2010

WikiLeaks founder could face espionage charges

10:13 pm on 1 December 2010

The United States and Australia are investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for possible violations of espionage laws.

The investigations follow the whistle-blowing website's latest release of US diplomatic cables which include sensitive information on American foreign policy.

However, Mr Assange is already promoting his next document dump - this time from an American bank.

Criminal is the suggestive word being used by the White House and the State Department in regards to the latest WikiLeaks release Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Washington reports.

Mr Assange is now being investigated by multiple federal agencies.

Under the Espionage Act 1917, anyone who has unauthorised access to information relating to the national defence and then wilfully publishes them may be prosecuted.

Mr Assange's exact whereabouts is not known, but he is thought to be residing in London.

Sweden is investigating rape allegations against him, which Mr Assange says are part of a smear campaign by the US.

US ambassador to Britain Louis Susman says WikiLeak's actions are an issue of national security that could potentially harm many people and should be condemned.

The WikiLeaks founder is promising that he has documents from an American bank which he says will demonstrate unethical decision-making and an ecosystem of corruption.

Comparing the documents to the emails that exposed Enron's dealings amid its collapse, Mr Assange told Forbes magazine the thousands of documents could "take down a bank or two."

US fears about Pakistan revealed

In the latest batch of diplomatic cables released by the website, the US, Britain and Russia have all expressed deep concern about Pakistan's nuclear security.

They say Islamist militants could steal enough nuclear material from Pakistan's facilities to build a crude nuclear device.

Meanwhile, the US State Department says it has temporarily severed a database of cables from military computers.

The move is part of American efforts to stop further leaks of confidential material.