Assange in new bid to be released on bail

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make a fresh appeal to be granted bail when he returns to court today.

The 39-year-old Australian was remanded in custody last week as he vowed to fight attempts to extradite him to Sweden for alleged sex offences.

He is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a second hearing this afternoon.

If Assange is denied bail a second time he is expected to appeal at the High Court.

The former hacker, who is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden, turned himself in to Scotland Yard detectives last week.

His legal team has claimed Swedish prosecutors have been put under political pressure to restart their inquiry to help silence and discredit Assange.

Writing in the New Statesman this week, journalist John Pilger describes as “supine” as interview with the lawyer for Assange’s accusers, Claes Borgstrom, which appeared in the Guardian on 9 December and described him as ‘a highly respected Swedish lawyer”. Pilger said: ‘Borgström is foremost a politician, a powerful member of the Social Democratic Party. He intervened in the Assange case only when the senior prosecutor in Stockholm dismissed the ‘rape’ allegation as based on ‘no evidence’.”

Pilger writes: ‘Assange still has not been charged with anything. He has never been a ‘fugitive’. He sought and got permission to leave Sweden, and the British police have known his whereabouts since his arrival in this country. This did not stop a London magistrate on 7 December ignoring seven sureties and sending him to solitary confinement in Wandsworth Prison. At every turn, Assange’s basic human rights have been breached.”

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