Australia investigating whether WikiLeaks 'cablegate' broke national criminal laws

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Melbourne, Nov 29(ANI): Australian Federal Police are investigating whether the leaking of a cache of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks broke Australian law, Attorney General of Australia has said.

An overview of the cables provided by Wikileaks shows that 1442 documents mention Australia and nearly 1000 documents originated at the US embassy in Canberra.

Of the 933 cables from the Canberra embassy, 470 are marked "unclassified", 385 "confidential" and 79 "secret".

"From Australia's point of view, we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached. The Australian Federal Police are looking at that," News.com.au quoted Attorney-General Robert McClelland, as saying.

A defence taskforce which had been monitoring Wikileaks would become a "whole-of-government taskforce", he added.

McClelland stopped short of saying that the government was considering cancelling WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's passport, but did not rule it out.

The taskforce was set up in July to investigate the implications of the release of some 400,000 US military documents on Iraq.

Although the taskforce recently reported that Australian interests had not been damaged, Defence Minister Stephen Smith warned that this time things could be different.

"The early indicators were that we were hopeful no great or any damage had been done, but in the case of these cables it's a much wider remit," Smith said.

WikiLeaks has previously published tens of thousands of documents detailing the U.S. handlings of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has even claimed that WikiLeaks has put U.S. and allied soldiers in danger.

Assange, who founded the whistleblower website in 2006, is regarded as a digital folk hero by many and a dangerous menace by the American government.

Before working with the website, the 39-year-old Australian was a physics and mathematics student, hacker, and computer programmer. (ANI)

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