Assange to stay in custody as Sweden lodges appeal (Third Lead)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

LONDON - Swedish authorities Tuesday lodged an appeal against a British court decision to free on bail WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, preventing his release from custody, his lawyer said Tuesday.

“This really is turning into a show trial,” lawyer Mark Stephens said in London, after receiving confirmation of the Swedish move. The appeal will be heard at the High Court in London over the next 48 hours.

Supporters of Assange said it was becoming increasingly clear that there was a “political element” to Sweden’s demand for his extradition on allegations of sex offences against two women.

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 39-year-old Australian, who was arrested after turning himself in at a London police station a week ago, would have to hand in his passport and observe a curfew that would be monitored by an electronic tag.

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.

Earlier, Assange’s lawyer said the WikiLeaks founder will remain in jail in London for the time being despite a court decision to grant him bail.

Mark Stephens said: “An innocent man will stay in jail.”

The case was being complicated by the need to raise the 200,000 pounds to secure Assange’s release.

“It will take us some time to raise that money. It will be some time until Assange is out,” said Stephens.

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