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Assange bailed again

Extradition battle rumbles on

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Julian Assange has been bailed again by a London magistrate ahead of a full extradition hearing next month.

The WikiLeaks founder walked free from Belmarsh Magistrates' Court this morning following a brief hearing, in which only minor changes were made to his bail conditions.

Assange, who is wanted by Swedish authorities over sex crime allegations, which he denies, will now be allowed to stay in London immediately prior to the next hearing, scheduled for 7 February. Since his release from prison in December he has been confined to the Norfolk estate of Vaughan Smith, a wealthy journalist and former army officer.

Outside court, Assange said: "Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing of materials related to Cablegate."

He added that his lawyers will release basic details of their arguments against extradition later today. [Update: it's available here (pdf)]

While out on bail the 39-year-old Australian has signed a major book deal and expressed hope that the WikiLeaks manifesto and his account of a year of releases of classified US material will become "one of the unifying documents of our generation". ®

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Also at court this morning was heiress/socialite/humanitarian Jemima Goldsmith, who reported to her Twitter followers: "Attending court today, as requested by Assange's lawyers. Taking my American-born stepdaughter along for the experience."

Goldsmith has taken up Assange's cause despite having been described in a 2008 WikiLeaks editorial concerning her family's attempts to use British courts to silence the press as "social climber Jemima Khan" [her then-surname]. The mind boggles.

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