WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has instructed lawyers to try and find a way of suing Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation.
The move comes two years after Gillard proclaimed in an interview with an Australian radio station that WikiLeaks’ dissemination of classified documents was “irresonspible” and “illegal”.
Her remarks are at odds with the opinion of Australia’s Attorney General, who confirmed that WikiLeaks had broken no laws in Australia or overseas.
Assange, 40, told campaign group Get Up!, which has aligned itself with his cause, that Gillard’s comments have had a profoundly negative effect on his organisation’s operations.
He said: “Mastercard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade that prevents any Australian Mastercard holder from donating to WikiLeaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard, this year, as justification.
“So the effects of this statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of WikiLeaks.
“We are considering suing for defamation. I’ve hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways we can sue Gillard over this statement.”
The interview took place in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange, who describes himself as a free-speech campaigner, has taken refuge over fears that he could be extradited to the United States.
He currently considered an enemy of the state there following the release of documents revealing possible war crimes involving US military personnel.
He is also wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over an alleged sexual assault and has said he is willing to give his testimony in London.
He has concerns that if he leaves the embassy, British police will immediately extradite him to America.
Swedish police have so far refused to travel to the capital to interview him.
His attorney, Jennifer Robinson, told Get Up! that Assange “takes the allegations very seriously and has always wanted to clear his name”.
She added: “He has continued to offer his testimony from London in order to resolve this case.”Assange said that as a result of the adverse reaction to WikiLeaks' operations, his family have had to change their names and go into hiding.