Spending his first day as a free man after nine days in prison, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday accused America of conducting an "aggressive" and "illegal" investigation into his activities and said he had heard reports that a "secret indictment" had already been made against him on grounds of espionage.

It was significant that these reports had not been contradicted by American authorities, he said.

"The big risk is onwards extradition to the U.S. and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely. We have heard reports that a secret indictment has been made against me in the U.S. Senior legal figures say it is approximately 80 per cent likely and principal figures who would be responsible for such an indictment are refusing to comment which is normal in the case of secret indictments," he told reporters.

In a BBC interview, Mr. Assange said he feared there would be more attempts to "smear" him to force his extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault brought on by two women. Describing the allegations as politically motivated and accusing Swedish authorities of hampering his fight against extradition, he said: "I have yet to receive a single page of anything from this investigation in English."

Mr. Assange, who was released on bail on Thursday on payment of £240,000 in cash and sureties, is staying on a 600-acre estate in Suffolk owned by Vaughan Smith, a former army officer and founder of war correspondents’ Frontline Club in London. His bail conditions require him to observe a "curfew", wear an electronic tag to monitor his movements and report to a local police station every day.

Mr. Assange said his website would continue to release material in its possession. "Now that I am back to assist the directing of our ship, our work will proceed in a faster manner. But as we have seen with my absence, things are well set up to proceed even without my direct involvement," he said.

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