Nine friends and supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who stood bail sureties for him, were on Monday ordered by a court to pay thousands of pounds each after police said that he had breached his bail conditions by seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Westminster Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle ruled that they must pay a total of £93,500 by November 6.
They included Steven Vaughan, at whose country home Mr. Assange lived for many months after being released on bail in December 2010; prominent journalist Phillip Knightley; and Mr. Assange’s assistants, Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison.
Mr. Vaughan, who was ordered to pay £12,000, said he and all those who stood sureties were “convinced that they have done and are doing the right thing”.
Mr. Riddle acknowledged that they acted in good faith but said that they must have known the “risk” they were taking and “failed in their basic duty” to ensure that Mr. Assange honoured his bail conditions which, among other things, required him to stay at a designated address.
Police said that he broke that condition when he moved into the Ecuadorian embassy in June and must surrender himself. He would be arrested as soon as he comes out of the embassy.
Mr. Riddle said he saw no difference between Mr. Assange taking refuge in the embassy and fleeing to Ecuador where he has been given diplomatic asylum..
“Mr. Assange has an obligation to comply with the legal requirements of this country to surrender to the bail granted on terms originally set by the High Court,” he said.
Sweden wants to question Mr. Assange over allegations of sexual assault by two women. He fears that if extradited to Sweden, he might be handed to American authorities who have threatened to prosecute him for publishing secret diplomatic cables.
Britain has refused to grant him safe passage to Ecuador arguing that it is under legal obligation to deport him.