More to come, vows defiant Assange

Tom Wald, London

December 18, 2010

WikiLeaks’ Assange free on bail

London’s High Court upholds bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, freeing him to direct WikiLeaks’ operations from a mansion in England.

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange, now under ”mansion arrest” at a stately home in the British countryside, says his time in a south London jail has only made him more determined to continue his secret-spilling work.

”It has not altered my position; in fact, it has confirmed my position to me personally that we are on the right path. It has given me enough anger about the situation to last me 100 years.”

His strong rhetoric came just moments before he entered the plush Ellingham Hall after being granted conditional bail at the High Court in London on Thursday.

Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations made by two women but said his main fear was being handed over to US authorities.

The 39-year-old Australian has become a hate figure in Washington over his website’s release of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables containing embarrassing revelations.

”I do not have too many fears about being extradited to Sweden,” he said.

”I have much bigger concerns about being extradited to the United States.

”We had a rumour today from my lawyer in the United States that there has been an indictment made against me in the United States. I have not had that confirmed.”

Looking tired after being locked up for 23½ hours a day at Wandsworth Prison for the past week and a half, he said the US administration’s attempts to bring down him and his website were out of line.

”I think it is clear it is not a path that is acceptable to the world community,” he said. ”Certainly not acceptable to the people of Australia or the people of Great Britain and to a large degree, not acceptable to the people of Sweden as well, although the administrators are a different matter.”

After being shut off from the world in jail, Assange was informed he had a ”good internet connection” to work with at the 10-bedroom residence owned by independent journalism campaigner and supporter Vaughan Smith.

”We have seen in my week away my team is robust and we continue to publish in a successful manner … that is not to underestimate the risks associated to all of us,” Assange said.

While at the mansion, he must observe a curfew and be tagged.

He will have to report daily to a police station, and £200,000 ($A315,000) in security, raised by his supporters, has been paid into the court.

Earlier Mr Justice Ouseley of the High Court warned Assange that he was almost certain to be extradited to Sweden to face sex assault allegations.

The court refused an attempt by the Crown Prosecution Service to stop Assange being freed but imposed tougher bail conditions than previously outlined by a lower court.

His release was delayed for four hours because of confusion over the payment of sureties as a who’s who of freedom of speech campaigners – including Nobel prize winners, British peers, former ministers, journalist Phillip Knightley and millionaire publisher Felix Dennis – visited police stations and magistrates courts to pay their cash but encountered officers ignorant of procedure.

There is a growing consensus among US constitutional lawyers and other legal experts that Assange will be indicted by Washington.

After his release he said that even if he were indicted in the US, the spilling of state secrets would continue.

AAP, GUARDIAN, with PAOLA TOTARO

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha