Assange helped many times: Carr

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says he has intervened on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange more than 60 times during the Australian's legal battle with United Kingdom and Swedish authorities.

Senator Carr's statement runs contrary to the claims of Mr Assange and his supporters that the Australian government has abandoned its responsibility to protect him as a citizen abroad.

Senator Carr was asked about Mr Assange, who has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, during Labor's weekly caucus meeting today.

Ecuador has granted Mr Assange diplomatic asylum on the grounds that if he were extradited from Britain to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes, he may later be transferred to the United States.

If that happened, Mr Assange could face life in prison or the death penalty over his website's release of classified US documents.

The Australian Greens have been placing pressure on the government to offer more consular assistance to Mr Assange, who they claim is being persecuted by the United States over the publishing by WikiLeaks of thousands of leaked, confidential diplomatic cables.

Senator Carr said Australia had intervened on Mr Assange's behalf 62 times since the dispute began - significantly more representations than had been offered to any other Australian in the same period.

Senator Carr confirmed on Monday consular officials had made contact with Mr Assange while he has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Australian officials had spoken with Ecuadorean embassy staff on eight prior occasions, who then relayed messages to Brisbane-born 41 year-old.

Mr Assange was offered consular assistance but, according to the spokesman, he declined the offer.

Meanwhile, the United States has denied Mr Assange's claim that the US government were running a ''witch hunt'' and manoeuvring to extradite him to face a grand jury over the WikiLeaks saga.

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