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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released on bail

Julian Assange has been released from prison after a British judge had granted a request for bail for the WikiLeaks founder. Assange is free until a ruling is made on a Swedish extradition warrant.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Assange released under strict conditions

Julian Assange was released from jail in London on Thursday evening. British High Court Judge Duncan Ouseley handed down his decision earlier in the day, confirming a lower court's ruling that the 39-year-old Australian could be freed on 200,000 GBP bail (236,000 euros, $317,000) under strict conditions.

"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," he said in a brief statement on the steps of the High Court in London.

The stringent bail conditions mean that Assange will be subject to electronic tagging and a curfew.

Assange must also reside at a supporter's country mansion in Suffolk, eastern England, and report regularly to the police, the judge said.

The estate, Ellingham Hall, belongs to Vaughan Smith, a former British army officer who founded the Frontline Club, a media group in London where WikiLeaks has based part of its operations.

Judge: Not a 'fugitive from justice'

British prosecutors had been trying to keep Assange behind bars until his extradition hearing, arguing that there was a risk he would flee the country.

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange

Assange still faces extradition on sex crime charges

Justice Ouseley rejected that assertion, saying that the court did not view the defendant as a "fugitive from justice" who was seeking to "avoid interrogation and prosecution."

Lawyers for Assange said bail money was "in the banking system" and that they expected their client to be released later in the day.

"We are expecting Julian to be released some time later today. Everybody is working very hard for that," said Assange's attorney, Mark Stephens.

Assange has been in jail since December 7, after he turned himself in to British police over a Swedish sex crimes warrant. Two women in Sweden, who are WikiLeaks volunteers, have accused him of rape and sexual molestation.

The Australian has denied any wrongdoing and claims that the allegations are trumped up charges and politically motivated. For their part, the two Swedish women have said they were never pressured to file charges.

Assange is the main force behind the release of tens of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables, which include details of overseas sites that Washington regards as vital to its national security.

Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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