x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

WikiLeaks founder Assange granted provisional bail on sex charges

Man behind release of thousands of secret diplomatic cables must wait until lawyers for Swedish prosecutors decide whether or not to appeal against his being freed.

LONDON // A British judge granted conditional bail to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, in a court on London court today, one week after he was arrested over allegations of rape and molestation in Sweden.

However, he will not be released immediately as British lawyers acting for Swedish prosecutors are considering whether or not to appeal against the ruling later today.

District judge Howard Riddle ruled in City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London that the Mr Assange, 39, an Australian, will be tagged and subject to a curfew if he is released.

He will have to reside at the country estate of the owner of the Frontline club, a media club where WikiLeaks has based part of its operation, and celebrity supporters have helped put up bail of £240,000 (Dh1.39 million).

Mr Assange gave his lawyers and journalists in court a thumbs-up as he was taken out to await the deliberations of the lawyers.

News that bail was granted drew cheers from Mr Assange's supporters outside the court building.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in Stockholm in August.

He strongly denies the allegations and his lawyers have said they are politically motivated, pointing to the coincidence of the timing with the release of thousands of confidential US diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks.