Australia didn’t abandon Julian Assange: Gillard

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he requested political asylum in Ecuador because his native Australia had abandoned him.

Updated: Jun 22, 2012, 16:18 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Rio de Janeiro: Rejecting Julian Assange’s claims that Canberra had made an "effective declaration of abandonment", Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday said that the WikiLeaks founder had not received face-to-face consular assistance because he had not asked for it.

Assange, who was speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corp radio by telephone from inside Ecuador`s London embassy, had accused Australia`s Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government of "slimy rhetoric" over his case.

"I haven`t met with anyone from the Australian High Commission since December 2010," he said, claiming that contact with diplomats had been limited to text messages.

However, Gillard said Assange is receiving the same amount of assistance as any other Australian.

"Mr Assange has received continuing consular assistance in exactly the same way any Australian citizen facing legal issues would," she said.

"The assistance to Mr Assange has included consular officials being in attendance at court for each day of the proceedings of his legal matters and consular staff have been in contact continuously with his legal team,” she said in Rio de Janeiro, while attending a UN summit on sustainable development.

Assange had on Thursday requested political asylum in Ecuador.

He further admitted that he doesn`t know whether Ecuador will approve his unusual plea for political asylum, as he spent a third night inside the country`s embassy in London.

In an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp radio, Assange said: "We had heard that the Ecuadoreans were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organisation with the United States”.

However, Assange acknowledged there was no guarantee that his plea would be successful, and indicated he didn`t know when a decision on his case would be made.

(With Agency inputs)