At the end of a 90-minute hearing in London today, high court judge Duncan Ouseley rejected an appeal against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s release on bail. He was freed at the end of the day after payment of the bail. Another hearing has been scheduled for 11 January to examine Assange’s appeal against his extradition to Sweden.
British court orders Julian Assange freed on bail but Assange remains in jail
14 December 2010 A British judge today ordered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released on bail of 240,000 pounds (about 280,000 euros) while his appeal against Sweden’s extradition request is heard. Severe restrictions have been placed on his movements,
Assange will have to spend every night as his place of residence and will be electronically tagged so that the police can track his movements. He will be subject to a curfew every night from 10 pm to 2 am and every day from 10 am to 2 pm. He will also have to report daily to a police station at 6 pm.
Assange’s release will probably be delayed until arrangements are made for the bail to be deposited. He stays in jail for now anyway since the Swedish authorities appealed today against the release order. The High Court will hear the challenge to the bail decision within the next 48 hours.
Julian Assange in custody in Britain
7 December 2010
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spent the night in London’s Wandsworth prison after British judge Howard Riddle yesterday refused to release him on bail on the grounds that he had the “means and ability” to abscond. Assange is opposing his extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges. A new hearing will be held on 14 December.
Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, said he would make a new request for Assange’s release on bail. Many well-known British figures such as film director Ken Loach offered to stand surety for him. Assange, who is Australian, has meanwhile been receiving consular assistance from his country.
According to the London-based Independent newspaper, informal talks are already under way between Washington and Stockholm about Assange’s possible extradition from Sweden to face trial on espionage charges in the United States.
Before his arrest, Assange said he had made the necessary arrangements for the WikiLeaks website to continue operating in the event that he was arrested. WikiLeaks continued today to post more U.S. diplomatic cables.
But the site could run out of financial resources as more online payment service providers deny their services to WikiLeaks, cutting it off from donations. After PayPal’s decision to suspend the WikiLeaks account, and the closure of Assange’s account by the state-owned Swiss bank PostFinance, MasterCard International and Visa Europe announced yesterday they were suspending payments to WikiLeaks. Defending the move, MasterCard said its activities were “illegal.” Visa Europe said it was examining whether the site’s activities violated its operating rules.
A French court yesterday refused to order French Internet company OVH to stop hosting WikiLeaks. The CGIET, the body that oversees the Internet in France, is expected to issue a ruling in the next few days on the technical and legal feasibility of complying with French digital minister Eric Besson’s request for the site to be banned.
Call for UK judicial impartiality after Julian Assange’s arrest
The Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke MP
Secretary of State for Justice
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
Paris, 7 December 2010
Dear Secretary of State,
Following WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest by the British police today, Reporters Without Borders urges you to guarantee respect for his defence rights despite the extreme tension surrounding this case. The proceedings should concern solely the accusations of a private nature that have been made against Mr. Assange in Sweden and must not turn into a proxy trial for the publication of leaked documents by WiliLeaks.
Mr. Assange is now waiting to appear before a judge who will decide whether he is to be extradited to Sweden, and whether he is to remain in detention or be released. If the latter option is chosen, he will probably have to deposit bail of at least 100,000 pounds (120,000 euros) and provide six guarantors to avoid remaining in custody.
Mr. Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, told Reporters Without Borders on 4 December that it would take 10 days from the international warrant’s issue to its reception by the police “unless Mr. Assange is treated differently.” Mr. Assange’s gesture of good faith in presenting himself to the police should be taken into account by those responsible for considering the case.
Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly condemned the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at WikiLeaks. This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency.
We therefore call for the British judicial system to be allowed to examine Mr. Assange’s case with all the required impartiality and without it being subjected to any external governmental pressure. The authorities of certain countries seem to want to obtain Mr. Assange’s conviction or at least to prevent him from continuing his activities in order to put a stop to WikiLeaks’ revelations, without regard to freedom of information. We would like to point out that WikiLeaks has played a useful role by publicising serious human rights violations that were committed in the name of the “war against terror” during the past decade.
We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general