Swedish appeal against Assange bail ruling to be heard Thursday

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LONDON - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is likely to learn Thursday whether he will be freed on bail or remain in custody in Britain following a turbulent series of legal moves.

The High Court in London said Wednesday that a Swedish appeal against the decision by a lower court in London Tuesday to grant Assange bail will be heard Thursday.

The 39-year-old Australian is wanted in Sweden on allegations of sex offences against two women, which he denies. He was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant, issued by Sweden Dec 7, and is held at Wandsworth prison in London.

A judge at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled Tuesday that Assange should be set free against the cash payment of a bail sum of 200,000 pounds ($315,000), plus two sureties of 20,000 pounds.

His lawyer, Mark Stephens, told BBC Wednesday that efforts to raise the funds were going well, with backing from the general public as well as prominent donors, including US filmmaker Michael Moore, human rights activist Bianca Jagger and Jemima Khan, the ex-wife of former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan.

Within minutes of the British court granting bail, lawyers for Swedish prosecutors lodged their appeal, arguing that Assange was a “flight risk” on account of his “nomadic lifestyle”.

“The suggestion that he is a flight risk is faintly ludicrous,” Stephens said Wednesday. An electronic tag, which Assange would have to wear under bail conditions, would allow the authorities to “locate him 24 hours a day”.

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