10 Dec 2010

Assange supporters hold rallies in Australia

10:23 pm on 10 December 2010

Hundreds of supporters of Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks website have protested in Australia.

About 500 people gathered in Melbourne, 400 in Sydney and about 200 in Brisbane for the rallies which coincided with International Human Rights Day, the ABC reports.

Many have signed a petition to send to the federal government.

Former Democrats senator and Greens candidate Andrew Bartlett told the rally in Brisbane the Australian public needs to send a strong message to governments all over the world about what they say is the persecution of Mr Assange.

The United States has been angered the by the whistle-blowing website releasing thousands of confidential diplomatic cables.

Earlier this week, Mr Assange handed himself in to London police and was detained on a European arrest warrant.

The 39-year-old Australian denies allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in Sweden earlier this year and told the court he will fight attempts to extradite him.

WikiLeaks says the arrest will not stop plans to release more of the US documents it has obtained.