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London court denies bail to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Assange

Julian Assange, the founder of the controversial WikiLeaks website, has been denied bail and will remain in custody until an extradition hearing on December 14. Assange faces rape charges in Sweden.

Assange on the cover of a newspaper

A European arrest warrant was issued for Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail and will remain in custody until a December 14 extradition hearing.

Assange was arrested in London on Tuesday on suspicion of rape, after a European arrest warrant was issued by Swedish authorities.

Assange had turned himself in to London police earlier in the day. He had been staying at an undisclosed location somewhere in Britain.

In the Westminster magistrates court, senior district judge Howard Riddle said Assange posed a significant flight risk if he was granted bail, adding that "these are extremely serious allegations."

During the hearing, Assange indicated his intent to fight the extradition. He has the right to appeal the extradition in higher courts.

Under fire

Julian Assange

Assange has another hearing on December 14

Over the past year, WikiLeaks has released secret documents from the US government on topics ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the current wave of releases that publicizes internal documents from US State Department diplomats from around the world.

The website and Assange have both come under fire in the United States as threats to national security, and on Monday, US Attorney General Eric Holder said he would be looking into the possibility of any crimes that could be associated with the leaking of the documents.

Lawyers for Assange have expressed concern that if he were to be extradited to Sweden, he may then be sent to the United States.

Australia providing assistance

Australian officials said Wednesday that they are providing Assange with consular assistance, even after he accused Canberra of "disgraceful pandering" to his foes.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia would support Assange as it would any Australian arrested abroad, adding that he was entitled to a presumption of innocence just like any Australian citizen.

Rudd said the Australian Consul General in London spoke to Assange on Tuesday following his arrest, to ensure he had legal representation.

Author: Matt Zuvela, Martin Kuebler (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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