Assange granted bail, Sweden plans appeal (Second Lead)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

LONDON - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was Tuesday granted bail by a court in London, but not immediately freed, as Swedish authorities prepared to lodge an appeal against the decision.

Assange, 39, would have to remain in custody for the next few hours until the appeal papers had been presented to court by the Swedish authorities, a judicial spokesman said.

If the appeal application is accepted, a decision on the Swedish move will be taken by the High Court within 48 hours.

Sweden has demanded the extradition of Assange under a European Arrest Warrant, alleging sex offences against two women, which he denies.

Earlier Tuesday, a judge at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London had granted Assange bail against a cash sum of at least 200,000 pounds ($315,000).

It ruled that the Australian, who was arrested after surrendering himself in London a week ago, would have to surrender his passport, observe a curfew and be monitored by an electronic tag.

Supporters were jubilant at the bail decision outside the court Tuesday.

Assange will continue to fight his extradition to Sweden, his lawyers said.

Earlier Tuesday, Assange issued a defiant message from prison in London, saying the Swedish allegations would not make him abandon his “ideals”.

Among prominent personalities backing Assange, inside and outside court, were human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, film producer Ken Loach and Jemima Khan, the ex-wife of former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan.

Jagger said the move by the Swedish prosecution to challenge the bail decision was likely to fuel suspicions that there was a “secret agenda” behind the Swedish extradition request.

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