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Terrorism & Security

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange bail granted by British court

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange was granted bail today in Britain. Confusion about who had appealed his bail led to 'Anonymous' hacker attacks on the wrong website.

By Laura KasinofCorrespondent / December 16, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is led into London's High Court on December 16. A British court has granted Assange bail, as he fights attempts to extradite to Sweden over allegations of sex crimes.

Leon Neal/AFP Photo/Newscom

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A British court today granted bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, dismissing an appeal from prosecutors. Mr. Assange is wanted for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden committed last August.

The Guardian reported this morning that "Justice Duncan Ouseley agreed with a decision by the City of Westminster earlier in the week to release Assange on strict conditions," including giving up his passport, wearing an electronic tracking device, and checking in with a local police station nightly.

A British judge on Tuesday had granted Assange release from jail on bail of $310,000, though less than two hours later, an appeal announcement indicated that Assange would remain in custody for at least another 48 hours, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Assange must return to the court for full extradition hearing on Jan. 11. The 39-year-old Australian native turned himself over to British authorities last week, although he denies the Swedish sexual assault accusations against him. (Editor's note: The original version of this story misstated the status of Swedish interest in Mr. Assange's case. He has been accused, but not charged.)

WikiLeaks has fueled an international outcry with the release of sensitive information from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most recently is in the process of releasing thousands of secret US diplomatic cables.

There is strong American support for Assange’s arrest. The New York Times reported yesterday that Justice Department officials are looking for evidence that Assange personally was involved in encouraging Pfc. Bradley Manning in leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and thus could be charged as a conspirator in the leak.

But lawyer Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish state, told the London court that "politics and Assange's activism have nothing to do with the case," the Monitor reported. She said that the charges against Assage are a "simple case of credible allegations of rape being made against Assange by two women, and that he should be brought to Sweden to stand trial."

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