Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will be released from prison after a High Court refused an attempt to overturn a judge’s decision to grant him bail. However Assange will have to adhere to strict conditions and his movements will be closely monitored.
Assange is wanted in Sweden over rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women. The Wikileaks head spent a week in jail after turning himself in to police.
Today, Assange was granted bail with a £200,000 cash deposit, a further £40,000 guaranteed in two sureties and strict conditions on his movement.
Funds for his bail were raised in part from prominent supporters, including film-makers Ken Loach, John Pilger and Michael Moore, said Assange’s lawyer.
Assange will stay at a country house in Suffolk owned by Vaughan Smith, founder of the journalist’s Frontline club. The Wikileaks boss will report to police daily and wear an electronic tag. His passport has been confiscated.
It was widely reported that it was Sweden which opposed Assange’s bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk. However today it emerged that it was, in fact, Britain which took the decision to keep Assange in jail.
According to the Guardian, the Swedish prosecutor’s office said it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose the judge’s decision.
Sweden is, however, trying to extradite Assange for questioning. “It’s an ongoing investigation in Sweden and the prosecutor needs to interrogate him to make a decision on the matter,” said a spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecution agency.
Wikileaks on trial in the US?
Wikileaks has made some enemies after publishing thousands of confidential diplomatic cables embarrassing governments around the world, and in particular the US.
Assange and his lawyers have said that they fear the US may be preparing to indict him for espionage.
If Assange can be shown to have had any direct involvement in leaking the documents, rather than simply receiving and publishing them, it will be easier to make a case to make against him.
Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, said that according to Sweden, the US investigation of WikiLeaks has accelerated. “We have heard from the Swedish authorities that there has been a secretly empanelled grand jury in Alexandria,” in Virginia, he told Al-Jazeera.
This makes the sex crimes allegations “nothing more than a holding charge”, said Stephens.