Date: Thu, 16.12.10 22:56
the WikiLeaks founder to continue his work as Sweden pushes its case for
extradition and the United States considers its own criminal charges over his
website's release of secret information.
The silver-haired Australian emerged from London's neo-Gothic High Court
building after a tense scramble to gather the money and signatures needed to
pursue his efforts to bring government secrets to light.
"It's great to smell the fresh air of London again," he said to cheers from
outside the court. "I hope to continue my work."
Assange is now headed to Ellingham Hall, a 10-bedroom mansion about 120 miles
(195 kilometers) northeast of central London that belongs to Vaughan Smith, a
WikiLeaks supporter and founder of London's Frontline Club for journalists.
Assange will have to observe a curfew, wear an electronic tag and report to
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said Assange could use the 600-acre
estate to continue coordinating the publication of leaked U.S. diplomatic
cables, whose publication has angered U.S. government officials, embarrassed
allies and nettled rivals. The U.S. State Department says that international
partners are have already curtailed their dealings with Washington as a result
of the cable leaks, but there's still much more to be disclosed.
percent of the 250,000 cables it claims to have in reserve. A batch of 74 new
cables appeared on the organization's website about two hours before Assange
Hrafnsson described the restrictions on Assange's movements as amounting to
"virtual house arrest," but said Assange would still be able to work.
"There is a good internet connection there," he noted.
Although U.S. officials have been looking at possible charges to levy against
the 39-year-old Australian for his role in the mass leaks, Assange's current
legal troubles stem from his personal life.
Swedish officials are seeking him for questioning on allegations stemming from
separate encounters with a pair of women in Sweden over the summer, accusations
that have clouded his reputation and prompted complaints from supporters that
Assange is being persecuted because of his activities.
Swedish prosecutors have rejected those allegations.
The women have accused Assange of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion.
Assange's lawyers say the allegations stem from a dispute over "consensual but
unprotected sex" and argue that he has offered to make himself available for
questioning via video link or in person in Britain.
Lawyer Gemma Lindfield, acting for Sweden, said the allegations had enhanced
Assange's reputation among his supporters, who "view it as part of the wider
conspiracy." She said given Assange's nomadic lifestyle and loose ties to some
of those promising bond, there was "a real risk" he would flee.
But the judge said when Assange arrived in Britain, he had asked his lawyers to
contact police so they would know where he was.
"That is not the conduct of a person who is seeking to evade justice," Ouseley
Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the bail decision would not change the
ongoing investigation in Sweden, and the extradition case would be handled by
Assange's next extradition hearing is set for Jan. 11.
--- D'Bridge 3.58
* Origin: WIKILEAKS (2:292/854)