WikiLeaks’ Assange freed on bail

UK judge confirms bail conditions ahead of extradition hearing over alleged sex crimes in Sweden.

britain wikileaks founder julian assange
Julian Assange said he hopes to continue his work and will fight the sex-crime allegations [Reuters] 

Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has arrived in rural England after spending nine days in solitary confinement in a London jail over a request from Sweden for his extradition.

Assange was released late on Thursday after a senior British judge ruled that he can be released on conditional bail following a week of legal drama.

The WikiLeaks founder is staying at a country mansion where he will be subject to a curfew, an electronic tag to monitor his movements as well as being required to report to the police every day.

The 10-bedroom Ellingham Hall, in Suffolk, south eastern England, is owned by Vaughan Smith, a WikiLeaks supporterand founder of London’s Frontline Club for journalists.

Extradition fears

Assange told waiting journalists outside the mansion that he suspects the US government wants to extradite him to the United States.

“One of the concerns that we’ve had since I’ve been in UK is whether the extradition proceedings to Sweden which is occurring in a very strange and unusual way is actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the United States,” he said.

“There’s obviously a serious attempt to take down the content by taking us down as an organisation and taking me down as an individual.

“That’s a matter of public record by people in the United States such as Gates, the Secretary of Defence, Hillary Clinton, Gibbs, White House spokesperson, and so on,” Assange said.

WikiLeaks has deeply angered US officialsby publishing hundreds of a trove of 250,000 US diplomatic cables, including details of overseas installations that Washington regards as vital to its security.

Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from London, said Assange had received a lot of help during his detention, particularly from influential and wealthy people who helped raise his $312,000 bail.

She said his lawyers, supporters and he himself were now concerned as to whether there is something more to the sex-crime allegations than what has been presented so far.

“Many are asking why he was allowed to leave Sweden if the allegations were of a serious nature. Why this fast-tracking extradition process now? Is there something else going on? Is this part of a backdoor [arrangement] where the Americans have got special dealings with Sweden?”

Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister, said the release of Assange would not put pressure on his government or on the country’s political system.

“It doesn’t put any pressure on the political system in Sweden. An arrest warrant was put up and based on accusations by a Swedish prosecutor and this is now for the Swedish and international judicial system to handle,” Reinfeldt said in Brussels.

‘No crime’ in Australia

Meanwhile, Australian police said on Friday that Assange did not commit any criminal offence in the country by releasing the diplomatic cables.

“The AFP [Australian Federal Police] has completed its evaluation of the material available and has not established  the existence of any criminal offences where Australia would have jurisdiction,” the AFP said in a statement.

“Where additional cables are published and criminal offences are suspected, these matters should be referred to the AFP for evaluation.”

Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, confirmed the finding, but reiterated her view that WikiLeaks’ release of the secret cables was “grossly irresponsible”.

“I know there are a number of people who are fans of WikiLeaks. Let me make it very very clear – I am not,” she said.

“The release of all of this documentation has been grossly irresponsible and I stand by the remarks that I have made about this previously.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies