Update (12:55 p.m.): Julian Assange will remain in jail for at least another 48 hours. As reported by the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, Swedish authorities have challenged the British court's decision to release Assange. The British judge subsequently told Assange that he would remain in prison until a hearing was convened at a higher court.
9:30 a.m.: A London court has granted bail to Julian Assange.
Assange is not free yet, however, as arrangements for his release will likely not be made until Tuesday night (December 14), the Globe and Mail reports. Furthermore, the bail for Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website Wikileaks, is coming with unusually stringent conditions for the crimes of which he has been accused.
Facing allegations of questionable sex offences in Sweden, Assange will be electronically tagged, must lodge U.S. $317,400 with the British court, observe a curfew until a subsequent hearing on January 11, 2011, and must reside at the east of England home of Vaughan Smith of the Frontline Club.
Assange’s bail was posted in part by American filmmaker Michael Moore. In a December 14 op-ed at HuffingtonPost.com, Moore wrote:
“Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail. Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.”
Moore continuned, “For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please—never, ever believe the 'official story'.”
In a written statement released through his mother, Assange remained steadfast in linking his persecution and arrest to the release of hundreds of thousands of classifieds U.S. government documents.
“We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy,” he said. “I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks.”
On November 29, the New York Times, the Guardian, and the German media outlet Der Spiegel began to make public information included in some 250,000 classified U.S. embassy cables. Information published by those media outlets was also made available at Wikileaks.org, which was subsequently taken offline by a denial-of-service attack.
Since then, the embassy cables and hundreds of thousands of other documents related to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been made available on thousands of mirror websites. Those can be found at wikileaks.ch/mirrors. The main Wikileaks site is also still available at its relocted home at wikileaks.ch.
Assange turned himself in to British authorities on December 7.
Publication of information in the U.S. embassy cables package was the fourth such release by Wikileaks.
The organization first attracted the mainstream media's attention in April 2010 when it published on YouTube a video taken in 2007 that showed a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on and killing Iraqi civilians and journalists. Next, in July, Wikileaks released a series U.S. military internal logs detailing events and communications from January 2004 to December 2009 related to the conflict in Afghanistan. Then, in October, more than 390,000 secret U.S. military reports on the war in Iraq were made public.
Since Wikileaks most-recent major release, several high-level members of the U.S. government have called for Assange's prosecution and even assassination.
Follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.