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Jailed Assange awaits bail appeal
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spends at least one more night in jail while Swedish authorities challenge his bail.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2010 14:38 GMT
The conditions of Assange's bail include a cash bond, two curfews, wearing an electronic tag and more. [Reuters]

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will spend at least one more night in a British prison, after court officials said that an appeal against the decision to grant him bail would not be heard for at least
24 hours.

Officials at the High Court in London said on Wednesday that the appeal by Swedish authorities would be heard Thursday. The court said further details would be confirmed later Wednesday.

Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from London, where Assange is being held behind bars, reported that the Swedish authorities will not be able to file the necessary paperwork to oppose Assange's bail until Thursday.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Assange released on $317,000 bail, but Swedish prosecutors challenged the decision.

Brennan said that if the Swedish appeal fails, then Assange's bail must be posted in cash. But his lawyers are struggling to raise the funds by tomorrow, in case the court allows Assange's bail to go through.

"So at the moment, today, what they (Assange's legal team) are doing is gathering together that cash," said Brennan. "I understand they have about a half of it so far."

Assange has spent a week in prison following his surrender to British police over a Swedish sex-crimes warrant. He denies any wrongdoing but has refused to voluntarily surrender to Sweden's request to extradite him for questioning.

Political claims rejected

Supporters of the 39-year-old Australian say the charges are trumped up, vindictive and possibly politically motivated.

Assange's British lawyer, Mark Stephens, said on Wednesday that "somebody has it in for Julian Assange and we only can conjecture why."

But lawyer Gemma Lindfield, acting for Sweden, told Tuesday's hearing that Assange faced serious allegations and may abscond if granted bail.

Lindfield said that Assange is accused of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion by two women for separate incidents in August. She said one of the women had accused Assange of pinning her down and refusing to use a condom. A second woman says Assange had sex with her without a condom while he was a guest at her Stockholm home and she was asleep.

Assange has not been charged in Sweden. His lawyers say the allegations stem from a dispute over "consensual but unprotected sex" and argue that he has offered to make himself available for questioning via video link or in person in Britain.

Lindfield also rejected attempts to link Assange's case with the work of WikiLeaks - which last month deeply angered US officials by beginning to publish its trove of 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

"This is not a case about WikiLeaks, rather a case about alleged serious offences against two women," said Lindfield.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
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