17/12/2010

Assange Tells Of 'Smear Campaign'

Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, has said attempts to extradite him to Sweden over sexual assault allegations are part of a "smear" campaign.

He is currently residing at a house near Bungay, Suffolk, after being freed on bail by the High Court in London while awaiting extradition proceedings.

He said more information would be published by the whistle-blowing website following his release.

Mr Assange is currently fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexually assaulting two women. He denies the allegations.

Earlier this week, the 39-year-old Australian was granted bail in London but prosecutors objected to the decision and he remained in jail.

At the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Ouseley granted conditional bail after supporters put up £240,000 in sureties.

Mark Stephens, Mr Assange's Solicitor, said the bail appeal was part of a "continuing vendetta by the Swedes".

He added: "We have won costs but they should be paid by Sweden not the hard-pressed Crown Prosecutiong Service."

Representing the Swedish authorities Gemma Lindfield, informed the judge there was "a real risk" Mr Assange would flee abroad.

However Mr Justice Ouseley highlighted that Mr Assange had offered to meet the police in London when he heard the Swedish matter was still live and he said: "That is not the conduct of a person who is seeking to evade justice."

Mr Assange is due to return to the court on 11 January.

(BMcN/GK)


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