Wikileaks founder Julian Assange granted bail, set free

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Assange at the SKUP conference for investigative journalism, Norway, March 2010.
Image: Espen Moe.

The founder of the whistle blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted bail and was set free, pending an extradition hearing. Justice Duncan Ouseley granted Assange "conditional bail," upholding the previous ruling which was made earlier in the week. He ruled against a Swedish appeal filed just two days ago. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged molestation and rape.

On Tuesday, Assange was granted bail with the help of former British army officer and journalist Vaughan Smith, who told the court that Assange could stay at his mansion in Suffolk. Defense barrister Geoffrey Robertson said that Smith would keep Assange "if not under house arrest, at least under mansion arrest." Assange's lawyers say that Assange is only wanted for questioning, and has not been charged with any crimes. However the lawyers representing Sweden countered by saying "The court has already found that Mr. Assange is a flight risk. Nothing has changed in this regard. [If the alleged offences took place in Britain] it undoubtedly would have been a charge of rape in this jurisdiction." Robertson did not agree.

Bail was set at £200,000, with two additional guarantees of £20,000. Assange would also have to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring. Pending further court hearings, Assange will be residing in a manor owned by Smith, which is located near the NorfolkSuffolk border in England. Assange would also have to spend at least four hours at Smith's mansion in the day and four at night. He will also have to check in with police every day between 6–8 pm local time. After the magistrate outlined the conditions Assange said, emotionlessly, on Tuesday, "I understand." Bail conditions remained the same, with small changes that included where he is allowed to travel, changes to his curfew and times in which he must report to authorities. Assange has yet to be formally charged with any crime.

Assange believes the sex offense accusation against him are politically motivated to take attention away from material that Wikileaks is publishing, including the release of over 250,000 United States diplomatic cables.

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