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US State Department says Assange's actions put people at risk

The State Department spokesperson was asked by reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday to give examples of harm caused by the WikiLeaks releases but did not provide any.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 19:39 IST

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Washington: The US State Department said on Wednesday its involvement in the resolution of Julian Assange's case was very limited but a department spokesperson reiterated the American position that the WikiLeaks founder's actions had put lives at risk.

The State Department spokesperson was asked by reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday to give examples of harm caused by the WikiLeaks releases but did not provide any.

Assange landed to an ecstatic welcome in Australia on Wednesday after pleading guilty to violating US espionage law in a deal that sets him free from a 14-year legal battle.

Chief US District Judge Ramona V. Manglona in the US territory of Saipan accepted Assange's guilty plea on Wednesday. Assange had agreed to plead guilty to a single criminal count, according to filings in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

While Washington has often called Assange's actions reckless and claimed they put its agents at risk of harm, the judge noted on Wednesday that the United States could not identify any personal victim from them.

Assange's supporters say he is a hero who was victimized because he exposed US wrongdoing and alleged war crimes, including in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2010 publications of documents.

"The State Department did an extraordinary amount of work when we found out that these cables were going to be published to get people out of harm's way ... and take action so people that would be put in danger would be put out of harm's way," the spokesperson said.

The State Department said the US Justice Department acted independently in the case and did not face interference from other agencies.

The spokesperson added that there was some limited coordination between the State Department and the Australian government recently in relation to the case.

Australia had been advocating for the release of Assange, an Australian citizen.

"We have an independent Justice Department," the State Department spokesperson said. "There was some small coordination role between our embassy and the Australian government in the last few days."

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Published 26 June 2024, 19:39 IST

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