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ASSANGE GRANTED BAIL

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WikiLeaks supremo Julian Assange was granted bail on appeal by a London court this afternoon.

After six days in jail he will be released with conditions, including a £240,000 surety. The next hearing in Sweden's attempt to extradite him in relation to alleged sex crimes against two women was scheduled for 11 January.

However, Swedish prosecutors could lodge an appeal against the decision, and if they do Assange will not be released until it has been heard.

Lawyers for the 39-year-old Australian said he would wear an electronic tag, abide by a curfew and surrender his passport. He must report to a police station in Suffolk every day at 6pm.

He'll be staying at a country "mansion" (a description offered by his QC Geoffrey Robertson) belonging to Vaughan Smith.

The wealthy war reporter, a founder of the Frontline Club in Paddington, where Assange has stayed in the past, also offered the surety. The courtroom was further populated by a bizarre circus of celebrities also hoping to act as guarantors in his release, including Bianca Jagger, Jemima Khan and Ken Loach.

Sweden's ongoing attempt to extradite Assange is not his only legal problem. His lawyer Mark Stephens said in an interview with David Frost over the weekend that a grand jury in Virginia has been secretly considering indicting Assange under the US Espionage Act.

Stephens also claimed that Sweden will defer its molestation and rape investigation if the US brings such spying charges. ®

Bootnote

The judge allowed reporters to tweet live from the courtroom, an apparent first for the British justice system. Perhaps that's a more substantial move towards greater official openness than marked by Assange's publication of the US embassy cables.

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