Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WikiLeaks Founder Granted Bail

WikiLeaks founder granted bail

By Jane Croft and Tim Bradshaw
December 14 2010 15:35

Julian Assange, the freedom of information campaigner and founder of
WikiLeaks who has embarrassed the US by leaking thousands of
confidential diplomatic cables, has been granted bail, with

Mr Assange, who had been held in Wandsworth prison since he was denied bail last week in connection with alleged sexual offences in Sweden, was granted conditional bail for £240,000. He denies the charges, which he claims are politically motivated.

Security was tight around the central London court as journalists
queued from early in the morning to get into the afternoon hearing.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, an Australian-born barrister who specialises in human rights cases, was representing Mr Assange, a fellow Australian.

The City of Westminster magistrates’ court refused bail last week,
even though some prominent campaigners and celebrities who are
supporters of WikiLeaks, such as writer Jemima Khan and film director
Ken Loach, offered to put up thousands of pounds in sureties. Michael
Moore, the American campaigning film-maker, has also offered sureties.

Howard Riddle, chief magistrate, had initially denied Mr Assange’s
request on the grounds that the alleged offences were serious and he
was a flight risk because he had no strong connection to the UK and
had access to funds.

Mark Stephens, one of Mr Assange’s lawyers, had accused prosecutors of an “ambush” against his client.

Mr Stephens said ahead of Tuesday’s hearing that Mr Assange would
offer to wear a tracking device while fighting extradition to Sweden
in order to secure bail.

Mr Assange had been held separately from other prisoners during his
week in Wandsworth prison, without access to the internet and with
limited access to other media.

The WikiLeaks founder has been selected by readers of Time magazine as their person of the year, securing almost one-third of the online vote.

Sweden’s prosecution service, meanwhile, has rejected the accusation
that the case is part of an attempt to target Mr Assange.

The European Arrest Warrant is an established if contentious tool for
extraditing suspects from one European country to another.

An English court would normally order extradition if the case made out
by the applicant nation is in line with the requirements of EU rules.

In a statement sent to an Australian news site, Seven News, Mr Assange rallied supporters ahead of the hearing. “My convictions are
unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have always expressed,” he

“We now know that Visa, Mastercard and Paypal are instruments of US foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before. I am calling on the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral acts.”

Pro-WikiLeaks “hacktivists” last week launched a series of online
attacks against companies they accused of hindering the site’s release
of diplomatic cables.

A loose association of internet activists known as Anonymous launched
denial-of-service attacks on websites owned by MasterCard, Visa and
PayPal, as part of “Operation Payback”. Anonymous has also claimed
credit for bringing down European websites of Amazon.com over the
weekend; Amazon denied any attacks, blaming a technical fault.

Two individuals have been arrested in Holland following the attacks,
one of whom has already been released.

Anonymous’s attacks have waned in recent days as it pursues “Operation Leakspin”, an attempt to distribute WikiLeaks’ cables widely across the internet.

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