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Jail Denies Wiki Boss Access To Counsel; Bail Hearing Today

PTI 16 Dec 2010, 9:30:58 IST
London, Dec 15:  Sweden's appeal against the bail granted to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape charges will be heard in the High Court here on Thursday, even as his lawyers complained that the prison authorities were making it difficult for them to meet him for preparing his legal case.

Assange, a 39-year-old Australian national who is wanted in Sweden for alleged sex offences, was granted bail at a court hearing on Tuesday after his supporters agreed to post a £200,000 cash deposit. A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder said on Wednesday his backers had raised around half of the £200,000 cash he needs to secure bail after he was accused of sex crimes in Sweden.

Prominent public figures including US film-maker Michael Moore, Australian journalist John Pilger and British author Hanif Kureishi have pledged their support for Assange.

"I'm getting offers from the general public who are coming in and saying we really would like to contribute to this, Julian Assange shouldn't be in jail," Stephens added.

However, Assange was later told that he would remain behind bars after Swedish authorities said they would appeal against the bail before the full extradition hearing begins next year.

The appeal was lodged after district judge Howard Riddle told Assange he could be released from Wandsworth Prison in southwest London on the condition that he will have to reside at the agreed address of a former British army officer.

Captain Vaughan Smith, founder of the journalists' Frontline Club, offered to house Assange at his estate in Suffolk.

As a condition of his bail, the Wikileaks founder must live at the home of Smith. As per the bail condition, Assange will have to wear an electronic tag that would allow British authorities to locate him all the time, the lawyer said.

But, he complained that the prison officials were increasingly making it difficult for lawyers to meet Assange and prepare his legal case. "I can't get access to him," he said. "I will not be able to take instructions from him.  PTI