Washington monitored Australian rallies for ‘anti-US sentiment’ – Guardian

Lazy eyes listen


The American embassy in Australia monitored protests in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for “anti-US sentiment,” according to declassified documents obtained by the Guardian.

The US State Department provided the relevant papers in response to a freedom of information request from Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi, who shared them with Guardian Australia, according to an article published on Tuesday.

The documents show the US embassy in Canberra’s response to the events of 2010, when the Wikileaks whistleblower website published classified materials alleging American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan obtained by Assange from US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

According to the declassified records, the US embassy’s regional security office (RSO) had been monitoring rallies in support of Assange that were held across Australia following the revelations and reported its findings to Washington via diplomatic channels.

“The demonstrations have all been peaceful and generally number in the range of a few hundred persons. Embassy RSO notes the rallies have featured very little, if any, anti-American sentiment,” a cable dated December 17, 2010, read, as cited by the Guardian.

“Wikileaks supporters held a recent demonstration in Canberra’s central business district and made no attempt to march to the US Embassy or direct any ire at other American interests,” it stressed.

However, the same file warned that Assange, who is an Australian citizen, had been “gaining increasing sympathy” in the country, “particularly on the left.”

The Australian media, according to the embassy, “continues to have a field day with the leaked cables.” According to the diplomats, the country’s coverage of the topic had been “sensationalist.”

Assange, who has been jailed at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019, is now resisting extradition to the United States. In America, the journalist is facing 17 charges under the US Espionage Act, which could result in a 175-year prison sentence.

The 52-year-old journalist claims he broke no laws and that his publishing of top-secret material was legal journalism protected by the US Constitution. According to Wikileaks, the UK High Court of Justice in London will hear Assange’s “final” plea against being turned over to the US on February 20 and 21.