Assange plans 'defamation case' against Gillard

     Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has reportedly hired a team of lawyers to pursue a defamation case against Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The founder of the whistle blowing website hired legal experts to investigate suing Gillard for defamation over a claim that WikiLeaks acted 'illegally' in leaking 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

In an interview from the Ecuadorean embassy in London , Assange said Gillard's comment, made in late 2010, was used by Mastercard Australia , which joined an online financial blockade of the organisation. The White House and the Gillard government have condemned the release since November 2010 of over 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Assange said the group's work was stymied by Gillard's comments. '"Mastercard Australia , in justifying why it has made a blockade preventing any Australian Mastercard holder from donating to Wikileaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard as justification," Assange said during an interview with an Australian activist group GetUp! "'So the effects of the statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of WikiLeaks," Assange said.

"We are considering suing for defamation. So I have hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways in which we can sue Gillard over that statement," he added. According to the report, Assange said the comments were particularly damaging because they ''licensed'' other forms of attack on him and Wikileaks.

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