LOS Cabos, Mexico, June 19, 2012 (AFP) - Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday that Australia will continue to offer consular assistance to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, after he sought asylum in Ecuador to avoid extradition.
"Australia will continue to support Mr. Assange just as we do support any Australian overseas who faces legal difficulties or dilemmas," Gillard told reporters after a Group of 20 summit in Mexico.
Assange, whose activist website angered the United States by publishing a flood of leaked diplomatic documents, fled to Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid being expelled from Britain to Sweden, where he is accused of sex crimes.
An Australian, Assange has accused his home country of abandoning him and charged that the United States wants to try him on espionage charges that could theoretically carry the death penalty.
Gillard said that Assange's "decisions in relation to his manner are for him to make" but said that Australia had offered him more consular assistance than any other citizen in a comparable period.
Gillard said Australia would oppose the extradition of Assange to face the death penalty, but stressed that it was purely a hypothetical question.
"The legal matter that Mr. Assange faces are matters of a sexual complaints nature involving the laws of Sweden," she said.
"But the position of the Australian government on death penalty cases is well known and applies for every Australian citizen," she said.
"For any Australian citizen at any time in any circumstances, we oppose extradition for death penalty cases," she said.