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Updated: December 16, 2010 06:54 IST

Julian Assange's bail challenged

Hasan Suroor
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reacts behind the heavily tinted window of a police van as he arrives at the Wandsworth Prison in London on Tuesday.
AP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reacts behind the heavily tinted window of a police van as he arrives at the Wandsworth Prison in London on Tuesday.

As Swedish prosecutors on Wednesday filed an appeal against the bail granted to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange by a magistrates court on Tuesday, his lawyer Mark Stephens questioned their motive likening them to ``Scrooge’’, the cold-hearted Dickensian character who liked to spoil other people’s happiness.

The appeal will be taken by the High Court tomorrow while Mr Assange Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault, remains in jail.

Mr Stephens wondered why Swedish authorities wanted to put his client ``through yet more trouble, more expense and more hurdles’’ telling the BBC that Mr Assange was accused of the lowest category of rape under Swedish law and such an offence had never previously been used as a ground for extradition.

"It is unlikely that even if convicted Assange will go to jail, so in those circumstances one has to ask oneself why are the Swedish authorities so dead-set that he will spend Christmas in jail? Do they have the genes of Scrooge? The suggestion that he is a flight risk is faintly ludicrous," he said pointing out that the electronic tag he would be required to wear on his release would allow the authorities to "locate him 24 hours a day’’

Mr Assange’s legal team was making frantic efforts to raise £200,000 in cash that must be deposited in court as bail security. Even if the High Court rejects the appeal, he will not be released until the money is deposited.

The bail was set at £240,000 with £200,000 to be deposited in cash. Other bail conditions require him to surrender his passport, wear an electronic tag to monitor his movements and report to police every day besides staying at a fixed address.

Mr Stephens said that £100,000 had already been raised. Several high-profile public figures, including writers, film-makers and journalists, were said to have pledged money for his bail. A number of ordinary people had also offered to contribute, according to his legal team.

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