One week ago, we reported that Julian Assange had been arrested. He was first denied bail after surrendering to authorities in London early last Tuesday morning.
This morning WikiLeaks‘ Julian Assange went to his court hearing in London to fight possible extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes charges. Midday, Assange was granted bail to cheers from both inside and outside the courtroom. No word yet on whether he’ll pay the £200,000 bail with Paypal, Mastercard or Visa.
Assange’s high-profile lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, argued against the allegations of rape, “We doubt whether this actual category of rape would be rape under English law.” Robertson assured the judge that “the mere absence of a fixed residence does not give rise to a danger of absconding” and offered a permanent address in the U.K. where 39-year-old Assange would stay. Bail conditions also include surrendering his passport, a curfew from 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am, an electronic tag and the duty to report to the police everyday at 6pm.
According to the latest updates from the Guardian’s live blog of the hearing, Swedish prosecutors aren’t letting him go so easily. They are now launching an appeal against granting Assange bail. They will have 48 hours to submit an appeal and Assange will not be freed until that process is over.
Assange has since left the courthouse and is suspected to be on his way back to Wandsworth prison. He will remain there until the appeal is submitted.
Vaughn Smith, the founder of the FrontLine club in west London, is one of the many people offering security. If Assange is released, he will stay at Smith’s estate, Ellingham Hall in Suffolk, and report to a nearby police station at Bungay every evening. Here, Assange will await his next hearing on January 11th, 2010.
Jemima Khan – who had earlier offered a surety on behalf of Assange – said: “It’s great news. I can hear them all cheering outside.”
Novelist Tariq Ali said: “I’m very pleased that he is out. I think the extradition charges should now be dealt with in the same way. His barrister made the same point, that this is not rape under English law and there is absolutely no reason for extradition. We are delighted he is out, and he should never have been locked up in the first place.”
Author Yvonne Ridley said: “It is a victory for common sense. If he had been refused bail, it would have meant the court had become a political arena.”
Gavin MacFadyen, of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, said: “I am very pleased, and it is about time. We do not know what the prosecution will do now. And there is still a possibility of an appeal.”
The overwhelming support for Wikileaks has come in various forms from $20,000 from filmmaker Michael Moore to a deluge of online hacker attacks from groups like 4Chan/Anonymous who initiated Operation:Payback, a call to action to bring down the websites of companies that have publicly removed services once used by the Wikileaks website, targeting Swiss bank PostFinance, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard. Assange has also won the Readers’ Choice for TIME’s Person of the Year 2010.