‘Well it’s is great to smell fresh air of London again.’ – Julian Assange
‘I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter and to reveal as we get it, which we have not yet, the evidence from these allegations.’ – Julian Assange
‘I’m relieved. He should never have been denied bail in the first place.’ — Tariq Ali
‘Information is the currency of democracy.’ — Thomas Jefferson
‘The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial.’ — Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley
At a two-hour hearing in the High Court today at the Royal Courts of Justice, Julian Assange has been freed on bail. The bail conditions are as set two days ago, but with the additional condition that five not two people have to stand surety.
The case is looking increasingly Orwellian. Sweden appealed the release on bail two days ago, hence the hearing today in the High Court. They claim because he has wealthy backers, he may abscond as he has the means and resources to do so. Why does he need wealthy backers, because Sweden objected to his release and a ludicrously high bail of £240,000 has been set. Why would he abscond? He did not abscond from Sweden. The case was dropped and he was allowed to leave the country. He made no secret of the fact that he was in England. He voluntarily gave himself up to the police. His release dependent on on all the paperwork being completed, on the bail money being delivered to the High Court in cash, and on the people being found for surety. This is not likely to happen until this evening, his curfew then kicks in.
It was touch and go whether he would be actually set free tonight, that maybe Julian Assange would have to spend an additional night in prison, but at 6pm this evening he stepped outside the Royal Courts of Justice and gave a brief press conference on the steps.
He said he was pleased to be able to breathe fresh air again. He thanked all those around the world who have had faith in him and who have stood by him. He sees the hand of the US behind his detention. He thanked the members of the press who were not taken in. He thanked his legal team. He thanked British Justice for setting him free. He also drew attention to all the political prisoners around the world who are being held without trial in far worse conditions than he. He made the point that he has still not been made aware of charges against him.
Whilst in prison, Julian Assange was accompanied by two prison guards when he wished to exercise, was kept under 23-hour lock down in solitary confinement, kept under 24-hour CCTV surveillance, his mail was withheld.
In August Julian Assange made himself available to Swedish police. He answered all their questions. The case was dropped, he was free to leave. Nevertheless he remained in Sweden until September just in case there was anything else needed clearing up.
When he was in ‘hiding’ at the Frontline Club in England, he made his whereabouts known to the the Extradition Unit of the Metropolitan Police. He was in communication with them. He said he would turn himself in when an arrest warrant was served, which he did.
What we are seeing is a vendetta being pursued by Sweden.
Who really blocked the release on bail? Sweden or UK? Or are they both jumping to the Puppet Master Uncle Sam?
No charges have been laid against Julian Assange. He is merely wanted for questioning in Sweden, nothing more. All this effort to question a man? He could be questioned in England, he could even be questioned at the Swedish Embassy, which technically is Swedish territory. This has been offered to Sweden and they have turned it down. Why are they so keen to get him to Sweden? Extra-ordinary rendition to the US? The US is rumoured to be scouring the statute book to find something, anything, with which to charge him.
If the US thought with this intimidation they could silence Julian Assange and Wikileaks then they have seriously miscalculated. They have propelled both to the top of the world’s media agenda.
Julian Assange will be held under house arrest under strict conditions of curfew in a house in Norfolk on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. Not one iota of evidence has been presented in Court against him, nor is the Swedish Prosecutor required to under the European Arrest Warrant which once again highlights the scandal of the European Arrest Warrant. In Sweden, all court proceedings have been held in secret.
The Judge awarded costs against the Swedes!
Much as we may wish to celebrate we must not forget that this is only the first skirmish. He has still to fight the extradition to Sweden which could go all the way to the Court of Human Rights.
Nor must we forget Bradley Manning, accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. For several months he has been held in inhumane and degrading conditions in solidarity confinement, 23-hour lock down, 24-hour CCTV surveillance. He is not allowed a pillow or sheets. He is not allowed to exercise, not even in his cell. All without trial.