By Philip Dorling –
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.”
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.”
Sydney Morning Herald with agencies