Australian diplomats believe Washington is targeting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for possible prosecution, according to documents obtained by a newspaper.
The Australian embassy in Washington is taking seriously the possibility that Assange will eventually be extradited to the United States on charges including espionage and conspiracy relating to a huge leak of classified information on the WikiLeaks website, according to The Age newspaper.
A raft of diplomatic cables, released under freedom of information laws and obtained by the newspaper, show Australia has been keeping tabs on Washington's interest in Assange and has no objection to the potential extradition, the newspaper said.
Despite Foreign Minister Bob Carr's insistence that the US is not pushing for Assange to be pursued over the leaks, the documents show he and Prime Minister Julia Gillard have been briefed on the issue, The Age reported.
The newspaper also said the cables showed that the Australian government requested early advice from the US on any decision to indict or seek Assange's extradition.
Assange, an Australian national, has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sex assault claims.
He fears Stockholm will then turn him over to the US to face charges over his whistleblowing website.
On Thursday, after Ecuador granted Assange political asylum, Australia said there was little it could do for him, as Britain suggested it was considering a raid on the embassy in order to make an arrest.
Assange has repeatedly criticised Canberra's handling of his case, but Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said while she was taking "an absolute interest" in his plight, there were limits to what she could do.
His mother Christine said Thursday that she was furious that British police may be sent in to seize her son, claiming they would be acting on behalf of Washington.© ANP/AFP