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.

Leon Neal/AFP Photo/Newscom
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.

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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."

It was initially reported that Swedish authorities made the appeal against Assange’s bail, but according to new information, it was Britain’s official Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that tried to block Assange’s release, and Swedish prosecutors denied involvement with the decision, the Guardian reported.

Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden's prosecutor's office, told the Guardian: "The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it."

As a result, she said, Sweden will not be submitting any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing tomorrow morning. "The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail."

The confusion about who appealed Assange's bail led to an attack on the website of the Swedish prosecutors ( through distributed denial of service [DDoS] attacks launched by Anonymous, a loose-knit collection of computer hackers, the Guardian reported.

An unofficial media spokesman for anonymous, Gregg Housh, told the Monitor last week that such DDoS attacks are an effective way of fighting on behalf of WikiLeaks and Assange.

"The only reason these DDoS’s actually work so well is because the press comes running every time they do it and ask for tons of articles," Mr. Housh said in the sit-down interview. "If they’re not doing the DDoS’s, they’ll get an article a month maybe about them if they're lucky on the back page of some blog. When they DDoS something like Visa, then I end up on the front page of The New York Times and on CNN that day."

The Monitor reported on Tuesday that a portion of Assange’s bail was paid by filmmaker Michael Moore, who in a statement also vowed “the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names, and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving."

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