Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange bailed but release delayed

The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted bail in London on conditions including cash guarantees of £240,000.

But he will remain in prison pending an appeal against the bail decision, which has been lodged by Swedish prosecutors.
His lawyer Mark Stephens said the case was turning into a "show trial".
Mr Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, accused of sexually assaulting two women. He denies the charges, and says they are politically motivated.

A large crowd including demonstrators, reporters and a number of Mr Assange's high-profile supporters gathered outside City of Westminster Magistrates' Court for the bail hearing on Tuesday.



He was granted bail on condition he provides a security of £200,000 to the court, with a further £40,000 guaranteed in two sureties of £20,000 each.
He must also surrender his passport, obey a curfew at a specified address, wear an electronic tag and report to a local police station every evening.

Mr Stephens said the court would hear the challenge to the bail decision within the next 48 hours.
Speaking outside court, he said: "The Swedes won't abide by the umpire's decision. They want to put Mr Assange through yet more trouble, more expense, more hurdles.

"They clearly will not spare any expense but to keep Mr Assange in jail." 'Common sense'

"If he had been refused bail, it would have meant the court had become a political arena"

In his first appearance at court last week, Mr Assange was refused bail on the grounds he could flee - despite the offer of sureties from figures including film director Ken Loach.

Mr Assange is accused of having unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom.
He is also accused of having unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.
Mr Assange claims the charges are politically motivated and designed to discredit him.

Following the bail decision, novelist Tariq Ali said: "I'm very pleased that he is out. I think the extradition charges should now be dealt with in the same way.
"His barrister made the same point, that this is not rape under English law and there is absolutely no reason for extradition.

"We are delighted he is out and he should never have been locked up in the first place."

Author Yvonne Ridley said: "It is a victory for common sense. If he had been refused bail, it would have meant the court had become a political arena."

The case is due to return to the court on 11 January.

Earlier on Tuesday, Christine Assange told Australian television station Channel 7 that she had spoken to her son in prison.

"I told him how people all over the world, in all sorts of countries, were standing up with placards and screaming out for his freedom and justice and he was very heartened by that," she said.

"As a mother, I'm asking the world to stand up for my brave son." 'No access'

Ms Assange also read a statement from him, which she had copied down when he spoke to her from Wandsworth Prison. In it, he defended the actions of Wikileaks, adding: "My convictions are unfaltering."

Mr Stephens said he had not been given any of his post - including legal letters - since being remanded in custody.
"He has absolutely no access to any electronic equipment, no access to the outside world, no access to outside media," he said.

The lawyer said the only correspondence his client had received was a note telling him that a copy of Time magazine sent to him had been destroyed because the cover bore his photograph.
In recent weeks, Wikileaks has published a series of US diplomatic cables revealing secret information on topics such as terrorism and international relations.

The latest release, published by the Guardian newspaper, shows that the US had concerns after the 7 July bombings that the UK was not doing enough to tackle home-grown extremists.
Another cable claims British police helped "develop" evidence against Madeleine McCann's parents after she went missing.

by BBC

No comments:

Post a Comment