Assange Granted Bail, But Remains In Jail

WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange was granted bail by a court in London on Tuesday but remains in jail, subject to an appeal by Swedish authorities. Assange has been held in prison pending extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex crimes.

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The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, arrived in a London court today, hoping to get bail. He'd already spent a week inside one of London's most notorious prisons.

Assange did get bail and yet, tonight, he's back behind bars. NPR's Philip Reeves reports on the twists and turns of this legal drama.

PHILIP REEVES: Assange's supporters were delighted when the court agreed to grant him bail. There were some strict conditions attached: an electronic tag, daily curfews and so on. But he'd get to live in a country mansion provided by a supporter. That's a lot better than languishing in a prison cell.

Then Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, appeared before the crowd of journalists outside the court with news of a hitch.

Mr. MARK STEPHENS (Attorney): There is a problem because he's been granted bail on condition that �200,000 cash is paid into this court here. That's an awful lot of money, and it's a pity that he can't use MasterCard or Visa in order to assist him to arrange that.

REEVES: Until that cash was delivered, Assange would have to stay in prison, he said. Stephens reeled off a list of prominent public figures supporting Assange's efforts to be freed. They include U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore and also human rights activist Bianca Jagger.

Ms. BIANCA JAGGER: I am very concerned that this case is being politicized. And if there is any accusations that are valid, then let him answer for them. But do not try him because he has hold accountable governments.

REEVES: Soon, Mark Stephens was in front of the cameras again.

Mr. STEPHENS: This is really turning into a show trial and...

REEVES: Assange is fighting an attempt by Swedish prosecutors to extradite him from Britain to face questioning over allegations he sexually assaulted two women. Stephens said the Swedish authorities had decided to appeal against the decision to bail Assange. This is a second reason Assange will remain locked up for now.

Mr. STEPHENS: ...but it's an unfortunate state of affairs, given that we were obviously very relieved for Mr. Assange a few hours ago, that the Swedes have taken this action. But given the history of persecution of Mr. Assange, it's perhaps not surprising.

REEVES: There will be another hearing within the next 48 hours, said Stephens.

Philip Reeves, NPR News, London.

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