Wikileaks’ Julian Assange refused bail

7 December 2010 — The Independent

Assange is expected to appear before a district judge at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court later today.

Assange is expected to appear before a district judge at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court later today.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was remanded in custody today after appearing in court on an extradition warrant.

The 39-year-old Australian is wanted by prosecutors in Sweden over claims he sexually assaulted two women.

District Judge Howard Riddle refused bail on the grounds there was a risk he would fail to surrender.

Assange was ordered to appear again before City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on December 14.

Jemima Khan, the sister of Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, film director Ken Loach and veteran journalist John Pilger all offered to stand as surety for Assange.

Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, told the court Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations.

She said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of ‘unlawful coercion’ on the night of August 14 in Stockholm.

The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

The second charge alleged Assange ‘sexually molested’ Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her ‘express wish’ one should be used.

The third charge claimed Assange ‘deliberately molested’ Miss A on August 18 ‘in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity’.

The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

Assange, who appeared pale but calm in the dock, confirmed his name and date of birth at the request of the court clerk.

There was confusion over his address as he asked whether it was ‘for correspondence or for some other reason’.

Assange, who was accompanied by officials from the Australian High Commission, eventually gave an address in his native country.

The one-hour court hearing came just hours after Assange was arrested by appointment when he attended a central London police station.

A European Arrest Warrant issued by the Swedish authorities was received by officers at the Metropolitan Police extradition unit last night.

An earlier warrant, issued last month, was not valid as officials had failed to fill in the form properly.

The court heard that the ‘household names’ were prepared to stake their reputation by offering sureties with a total value of £180,000.

Mr Loach, who offered £20,000, said he did not know Assange other than by reputation, but he said: ‘I think the work he has done has been a public service.

‘I think we are entitled to know the dealings of those that govern us.’

Mr Pilger, who also offered £20,000, said he knew Assange as a journalist and personal friend and had a ‘very high regard for him’.

He said: ‘I am aware of the offences and I am also aware of quite a lot of the detail around the offences.

‘I am here today because the charges against him in Sweden are absurd and were judged as absurd by the chief prosecutor there when she threw the whole thing out until a senior political figure intervened.’

Ms Khan offered a further £20,000 ‘or more if need be’ although she said she did not know Assange.

Assange leaned forward and listened intently as the case against him was outlined to the court.

Mrs Lindfield said he should not be granted bail because there was a risk he would fail to surrender and also for his own protection.

She outlined five reasons why there was a risk: his ‘nomadic’ lifestyle, reports that he intended to seek asylum in Switzerland, access to money from donors, his network of international contacts and his Australian nationality.

Mrs Lindfield added: ‘Any number of people could take it upon themselves to cause him harm.

‘This is someone for whom, simply put, there is no condition, even the most stringent that would ensure he would surrender to the jurisdiction of this court.’

(Via .)

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