BRISBANE, Australia/LONDON – Australia blamed the United States on Wednesday for the release by WikiLeaks of U.S. diplomatic cables and said its Australian founder Julian Assange should not be held responsible.
Assange spent the night in a British jail after a judge in London on Tuesday refused to grant bail to the 39-year-old. Assange was detained after Sweden issued a European Arrest Warrant for him over alleged sexual offences.
He has spent time in Sweden and was accused this year of sexual misconduct by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers. The pair's lawyer said their claims were not a politically motivated plot against Assange.
"It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA," lawyer Claes Borgstrom said.
Assange has angered U.S. authorities and triggered headlines worldwide by publishing the secret cables.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the people who originally leaked the documents, not Assange, were legally liable and the leaks raised questions over the "adequacy" of U.S. security.
"Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release of 250,000 documents from the U.S. diplomatic communications network," Rudd told Reuters in an interview.
"The Americans are responsible for that," said Rudd, who had been described in one leaked U.S. cable as a "control freak."
WikiLeaks vowed it would continue making public details of the confidential U.S. cables. Only a fraction of them have been published so far.
The latest cables, reported in Britain's Guardian newspaper, said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made threats to cut trade with Britain and warned of "enormous repercussions" if the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing died in a Scottish jail. He was freed in August 2009.
WikiLeaks also released cables on Wednesday that showed Saudi Arabia proposed an "Arab army" be deployed in Lebanon, with U.S. air and naval cover, to stop Shi'ite Hezbollah militia after it seized control of parts of Beirut in 2008.
Like many of the cables, the disclosures give an insight into diplomacy which is normally screened from public view.
Assange has become the public face of WikiLeaks, hailed by supporters including campaigning Australian journalist John Pilger and British film maker Ken Loach as a defender of free speech, but he is now battling to clear his name.
Lawyer Borgstrom told a news conference the accounts provided by the two Swedish women were credible and that he saw a good chance that Sweden would eventually press charges.
"More than 50/50," he said, when asked what the likelihood was of such a development.
The original source of the leaked cables is not known, though a U.S. army private, Bradley Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, has been charged by military authorities with unauthorized downloading of more than 150,000 State Department cables.
U.S. officials have declined to say whether those cables are the same ones now being released by WikiLeaks.
Assange defended his Internet publishing site in a newspaper commentary on Wednesday, saying it was crucial to spreading democracy and likening himself to global media baron Rupert Murdoch in the quest to publish the truth.
Suspected attacks by hackers sympathetic to Assange and against censorship brought down the websites of the prosecution Swedish authority and of Borgstrom's law office.
The prosecution authority, whose www.aklgare.se website was down for most of Tuesday evening and some of Wednesday, said in a statement it had filed a complaint with the police after what it called an "overload attack."