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Updated: December 8, 2010 17:32 IST

Assange defends WikiLeaks in editorial of 'The Australian'

AP
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A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds up a placard outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London where Assange was produced. The WikiLeaks founder, on Wednesday, defended his webiste in an editorial in 'The Australian'. Photo: AP
AP
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds up a placard outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London where Assange was produced. The WikiLeaks founder, on Wednesday, defended his webiste in an editorial in 'The Australian'. Photo: AP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defended his website in an opinion piece published in an Australian newspaper on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested in London in a sex-crimes investigation.

Mr. Assange writes in the opinion piece, published by The Australian, that there is a great need for WikiLeaks and denies that the site’s publication of classified information has endangered lives.

“WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed,” Mr. Assange wrote. “But the U.S., with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.”

He wrote that democracies require strong media to keep governments honest and that WikiLeaks helps fulfill that role. “WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and the Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.”

The 39-year-old Australian surrendered to British officials on Tuesday to answer a warrant issued for his arrest by Sweden. He is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of having sex with them without their consent.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers say the accusations stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex” and say the women only made the claims after finding out about each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday that Australia would support Mr. Assange as it would if any was Australian arrested abroad.

“Any Australian citizen is entitled to the presumption of innocence — and that includes Mr. Assange,” Mr. Rudd said.

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