The Australian government shared intelligence on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange with the United States for more than two years, it has emerged.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed to Fairfax Media the existence of an intelligence report concerning WikiLeaks and Assange cabled to Canberra from Australia's Washington embassy on June 1, says a Sydney morning Herald report.
Assange, who had been unsuccessful in his legal fight to avoid extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault allegations, sought political asylum in Ecuador's London embassy 18 days later, the report said.
The Foreign Affairs department also confirmed that US-Australia intelligence exchanges on WikiLeaks date back over two years by revealing the existence of two intelligence reports sent from Washington to Canberra on August 4 and 25, 2010, soon after the whistle blowing website's publication of secret US military reports on the war in Afghanistan, the report added.
According to the paper, the secret Washington embassy cables have been withheld from release because they are 'intelligence agency documents' that are exempt from disclosure.
The report said that one newly released Australian diplomatic cable showed that the Washington embassy did receive confidential information concerning the involvement of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigations targeting WikiLeaks as early as 29 or 30 July 2010.
The details of this exchange have, however, been redacted by Foreign Affairs on the grounds that disclosure of 'assessments or comments by foreign officials' would damage Australia's international relations, the paper said. (ANI)