Judge grants bail to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

UK court rejects appeal by prosecutors; Assange denies wrongdoing and refuses surrender to Sweden's request for extradition.

December 16, 2010 18:32
2 minute read.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Wikileaks Julian Assange 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

LONDON  — A UK judge has rejected an appeal and granted bail to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who will be freed from a British jail.

High Court justice Duncan Ouseley rejected prosecutors' argument that Assange should stay in prison and granted him conditional bail.

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Assange has been in prison since Dec. 7, following his surrender to British police over a Swedish sex-crimes warrant. He denies wrongdoing but is refusing to surrender to Sweden's request to extradite him for questioning.

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Assange was granted a conditional release on 200,000 pounds ($316,000) bail Tuesday, but prosecutors sought to keep him behind bars, arguing there was a risk he would flee.

Last month WikiLeaks deeply angered US officials by beginning to publish its trove of 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

The 39-year-old Australian has been held in a London prison for a week after surrendering to Scotland Yard due to a Swedish arrest warrant in a sex-crimes investigation. He denies wrongdoing and his lawyer says he plans to fight extradition.

At Tuesday's hearing, District Judge Howard Riddle said Assange must abide by strict bail conditions. He must wear an electronic tag, live at a registered address, report to police every evening and observe two four-hour curfews each day.

A total of 240,000 pounds ($380,000) was put up as a guarantee by several supporters.

Assange's next court appearance was set for Jan. 11.

Supporters outside City of Westminster Magistrates' Court erupted in cheers when they heard news of the judge's ruling.

Lindfield, acting on behalf of Swedish authorities, had asked the court to deny Assange bail because the allegations in Sweden were serious, Assange had only weak ties to Britain and he had enough money "to abscond."

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