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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted bail

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 11:02 EDT
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Update: Swedish authorities will appeal decision

Swedish prosecutors will appeal a British decision to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange bail, according to updates from sources outside the courtroom.

“This is really turning in to a show trial,” his attorney told reporters. “We will be in court in the next 48 hours, they haven’t given us the courtesy to say when. It is an unfortunate state of affairs, but given their history of persecuting of Mr Assange, it is perhaps not surprising.”

Assange will remain in custody until there’s a ruling on the appeal.

A prior report follows

Just one day after winning the Time Magazine online poll for “Person of the Year,” Julian Assange, founder of the secrets outlet WikiLeaks, has been granted bail.

He had been sitting in a British prison pending extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault not connected to WikiLeaks’ release of secret US State Department cables. His lawyers suggested the arrest was part of a larger plot to have Assange extradited to the US, where he may yet face espionage charges.

Though granted bail, Assange may not actually be freed on Tuesday, as it was already late afternoon when the ruling came down and prosecutors had time to appeal the decision. One of his supporters, Sarah Saunders, offered the court £150,000 — or “pretty much all I’m worth,” according to a reporter on the scene — to ensure Assange did not flee.

Assange also received help from US filmmaker Michael Moore, who offered $20,000 for Assange’s bail. He called the WikiLeaks founder “a pioneer of free speech” and said he’d host their site on his own web servers if needed.

Bail was set at £240,000, according to the BBC. A total sum of £1 million had been offered by various donors hoping to secure his freedom.

Once the decision was announced, the courtroom erupted with cheers, according to The Guardian.

The court required that Assange surrender his passport, report to police every day at 6 p.m., submit to a 10 p.m. curfew and wear a tracking device.

“Clearly, if the Swedish government opposes bail it will show there is some vindictiveness beyond this case,” British filmmaker Ken Loach told The Guardian. “It will show there is some political element that goes beyond the case.”

GOP strategist: Assange ‘out there murdering individuals’

In an MSNBC live broadcast, a reporter suggested that “the whole of the world’s media” and a massive throng of supporters had gathered outside the courtroom, and that the scene was one of celebration.

But not everyone was happy. Republican strategist Boris Epshteyn, speaking to MSNBC, claimed that Assange was “out there murdering individuals.”

“He’s costing people’s lives and putting our people, our men and women in uniform, in harm’s way and I really despise him for that,” the former McCain adviser said.

“US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure,” Assange wrote last week, in an editorial published the day he went to jail. “The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.”

Award-winning journalist and documentarian John Pilger also told MSNBC, “there is no case against Julian Assange,” adding that it’s a “disgrace” for the British to keep him in solitary confinement for so long.

This video is from MSNBC’s Jansing & Co., broadcast Dec. 14, 2010.


 
 
 
 
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