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Celebrities step in to offer WikiLeaks' Assange bail

The British courts want £200,000 to release Julian Assange – and directors, journalists and socialites are stepping in to help.

Julian Assange signals to photographers through the tinted window of a police van, following his appearance in court yesterday.
Julian Assange signals to photographers through the tinted window of a police van, following his appearance in court yesterday.
Image: Akira Suemori/AP

A GROUP of film directors, journalists and socialites have come together to offer their own cash to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, after the British courts demanded a £200,000 bail payment in order to release him.

The group – including film director KenLoach and socialite Jemima Khan – put up the £200,000 payment from their own pockets to ensure the freedom of the controversial WikiLeaks founder, whose freedom still remains in doubt as he awaits the outcome of Sweden’s appeal against his bail.

That payment was also to be supplemented by two further sureties of £20,000 each.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Sarah Saunders, a personal friend of Assange who runs a catering company in Kent, has stumped up £150,000 of the required amount, while socialite Jemima Khan and director Ken Loach – best known for The Wind That Shakes The Barley – offered a further £20,000.

Australian investigative journalist John Pilger and novelist Tariq Ali are also contributing £5,000 each. Filmmaker Michael Moore also offered to pay up $20,000 of the bail.

While the Swedish appeal remains pending, Assange remains in Wandsworth Prison; if the appeal fails and he is granted his bail, the BBC says he will be forced to obey a twice-daily curfew, surrender his passport, wear an electronic tag and present him to a police station every day.

If he is released, he will become the house guest of Vaughan Smith, who runs London’s Frontline Club where Assange has been a regular guest.

Smith told the Independent that he would “never abandon Julian” but admitted that it would be “one of the most unusual Christmases I have ever experienced” if Assange was to end up lodging with him.

Sweden is seeking his extradition over charges that he sexually assaulted two women in that country in August. Assange’s lawyers claim that the Swedish charges would lead to a “show trial”, after which he could face extradition to the United States.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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