WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Granted Bail in London

  • Share
  • Read Later
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

After being held for a week in a British prison cell, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was freed on bail Tuesday at a court appearance in London where he sought to fight his extradition to Sweden in an alleged sex-crimes investigation. The BBC reports bail was set at 240,000 British pounds — about $378,480.

According to the AP, the judge said that Assange must abide by strict bail conditions, which include giving up his passport, obeying a curfew at an address in Suffolk, wearing an electronic tag and reporting to a local police station every evening. The 39-year old Australian, who is accused of allegedly sexually assaulting two women in Sweden, turned himself in to Scotland Yard detectives and was refused bail last week despite the offer of sureties from figures including film director Ken Loach and political activist and philanthropist Jemima Khan.

(See TIME’s exclusive interview with Julian Assange.)

Hundreds of WikiLeaks supporters and international media gathered outside the London magistrate court ahead of Assange’s hearing. Among those leading the protest were gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and Lindsey German of the Stop the War campaign group. Some demonstrators wore masks from V for Vendetta, and others covered their faces with scarves to conceal their identity. Many carried placards mocking the British and Swedish authorities as well as black and white images of Assange.

Although this court proceeding wasn’t connected to WikiLeaks’ recent release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, Assange says he’s being wrongly prosecuted because of those leaks.  Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens said Assange had not been given any of his mail – including legal letters – since his arrest. The BBC reports Mr. Stephens said the only correspondence his client had received was a note telling him that a copy of TIME sent to him had been destroyed because he was on the cover.

(Julian Assange was Readers’ Choice for TIME’s Person of the Year 2010.)

Assange’s court appearance comes as the latest WikiLeaks releases reveal U.S. concerns that the U.K. was struggling to cope with homegrown extremism in the wake of the July 7 bomb attacks in London, along with cables suggesting British police helped “develop” evidence against Madeleine McCann’s parents as they were investigated by Portuguese authorities looking into their daughter’s disappearance.