The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said last night it would not to be gagged by the imprisonment of its founder, Julian Assange, after a judge refused him bail at a dramatic extradition hearing in London.
Assange who is wanted in Sweden over claims he 'sexually assaulted' two women, was in Wandsworth prison last night after district judge Howard Riddle claimed there was a risk he would fail to surrender if granted bail. Assange denies the allegations.
Despite Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan, the campaigning journalist John Pilger, the film director Ken Loach and others offering to stand surety totalling £180,000, the judge said the Australian Assange's weak
community ties in the UK, and his means and ability to abscond, represented substantial grounds for refusing bail.
He was remanded until 14 December, when the case can be reviewed at the same court. His legal team said he would again apply for bail at that hearing.
Last night Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, confirmed it would continue publishing US diplomatic cables. In a statement he said: This will not stifle WikiLeaks. The release of the US embassy cables – the biggest leak in history
– will still continue. We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship.
The refusal to grant Assange bail came on a day when increasing pressure was brought to bear in the US on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks. As Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate's homeland security committee, urged businesses to
sever their ties with the website, Visa suspended the payment of donations to the website through its credit card.
Michael Mukasey, a former US attorney general, said last night that American lawyers should try to extradite Assange to the US for betraying government secrets. Mukasey implied that the Swedish sexual accusations may only be a holding charge. When one
is accused of a very serious crime, he said, it's common to hold him in respect of a lesser crime … while you assemble evidence of a second crime.
After the ruling – with supporters waving A4 printouts reading Character Assassination and Protect Free Speech – his solicitor, Mark Stephens, emerged from court to claim the prosecution was politically motivated and
pledged WikiLeaks would not be cowed. Assange was entitled to a high court appeal, he said, adding the judge was impressed with the number of people prepared to stand up on his client's behalf. [Those supporters] were but the tip of the
iceberg, he said. This is going to go viral. Many people believe Mr Assange to be innocent, myself included. Many people believe that this prosecution is politically motivated.
Assange was arrested by appointment at a London police station at 9.20am after a European arrest warrant was received by the Metropolitan police extradition unit. He appeared in court at 2pm, where he spoke to confirm his name and date of birth and to
tell the court: I do not consent to my extradition.
Update: Britain not Sweden opposes bail
16th December 2010. Based on article
The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned.
The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.
It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor's office told the Guardian it had not got a view at all on bail and that Britain had made
the decision to oppose bail.
Lawyers for Assange reacted to the news with shock and said CPS officials had told them this week it was Sweden which had asked them to ensure he was kept in prison.
Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden's prosecutor's office, told the Guardian: The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a
matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.
Update: Bail granted
17th December 2010. bbc.co.uk
Based on article
The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has vowed to continue my work and to protest my innocence after being freed on bail.
Mr Justice Ouseley ordered Assange be released on payment of £240,000 in cash and sureties and on condition he resides at an address in East Anglia.
Assange's solicitor, Mark Stephens, said after the court appearance the bail appeal was part of a continuing vendetta by the Swedes .
Assange is accused of having unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom. He is also accused of the unlikely sounding offence of having unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.
The judge imposed strict bail conditions including wearing an electronic tag, reporting to police every day, observing a curfew and residing at a specified residence.
A full extradition hearing should normally take place within 21 days of the arrest. Mr Assange was arrested on 7 December, so this should be by 28 December. However, in such a high profile case, it is possible that a full extradition hearing will not
take place for several months.
Update: Weak Case
6th February 2011. See article
Rape case against the WikiLeaks chief weak
Details in a police file of the rape case against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, reveal a series of apparent contradictions and inconsistencies in the evidence against him.
Assange faces extradition to Sweden on a European Arrest Warrant. He has not been charged but is wanted for further questioning.
Mark Stephens, Mr Assange's lawyer, said: This is the third time people have sought to prejudice the outcome of Julian Assange's case by leaking information.
Kirsty Brimelow, a barrister asked by Stephens to independently review the evidence against Assange, said: I do not consider that the evidence would reach the charge threshold in this country; let alone sustain a prosecution.
Update: Automatic Extradition
28th February 2011. See article
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticised the unjust European arrest warrant system after a judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face sex offence charges.
The ruling against him came as a result of a European arrest warrant system run amok , he claimed.
He said: There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merit of the allegations made against me, no consideration or examination of even the complaints made in Sweden and of course we have always known we would appeal.
Launching into a criticism of the system, he said 95% of European arrest warrants were successful and he welcomed a pending review of UK extradition procedures due in June.
6th November 2011. See article
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his High Court bid to block extradition to Sweden, where he faces rape allegations.
Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Ouseley said that Assange must return to Sweden on a European arrest warrant to face rape and sexual assault allegations made by two Swedish women after a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.
The Australian could now be sent to Sweden within 10 days, unless as expected he decides to appeal the decision.
Update: Ecuador grants political asylum
17th August 2012. See article
A major diplomatic row over the fate of the fugitive Julian Assange erupted after the WikiLeaks founder was offered political asylum by Ecuador to escape extradition from Britain over allegations of serious sexual assaults.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, responded by warning the Ecuadorean government that diplomatic immunity should not be used to harbour alleged criminals. He said Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy in London where he has lived for
nearly two months.
Ecuador's decision has also angered the Swedish authorities, who wish to question Assange and the two women who claim he assaulted them during a trip to the country in 2010. Assange denies the assault claims and says he fears being sent on to the United
States where he could face political persecution for releasing thousands of secret US cables.