Although a judge in London agreed this morning to release Julian Assange on bail for sex-crimes allegations in Sweden, the WikiLeaks founder will remain in custody until prosecutors file their appeal. At the hearing, Assange’s high-profile free-speech lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, argued against the allegations, saying, “We doubt whether this actual category of rape would be rape under English law.” Robertson assured the judge that “the mere absence of a fixed residence does not give rise to a danger of absconding” and offered a permanent address in the U.K. where Assange would stay. From inside the courtroom, where television cameras were prohibited but tweeting was allowed, freedom of information advocate Heather Brooke and Times U.K. correspondent Alexi Mostrous said that Assange has been given bail on conditions, such as $310,000 in security. Swedish prosecutors plan to challenge the decision and file their appeal in the next 48 hours. Michael Moore has already pledged a $20,000 donation; others like socialite Jemima Kahn and director Ken Loach helped amass more than $150,000 in financial guarantees.
During last week’s hearing on the same charges, the judge thought Assange posed a flight risk, especially considering that the nomadic WikiLeaks leader, who turned himself in to Scotland Yard, first tried to offer a P.O. box as a current address. But the offer of a permanent address seemed to have swayed his opinion. Noting that the ten-bedroom house is surrounded by 600 acres in Suffolk, Robertson quipped, “It’s not so much a house arrest as a manor arrest.” Here is a photo of said manse, an estate called Ellingham Hall in Suffolk owned by journalist Vaughn Smith and his family.
The judge’s terms for the bail, which will be subject to appeal, state that Assange must report to the police station every day at 6 p.m. and is prohibited from applying for travel documents. He also has to surrender his passport and submit to a curfew and an electronic tag. No, ankle bracelets are not vulnerable to DDOS attacks. When Assange heard he had to remain in custody at least until the Swedish prosecutors filed their appeal, he told the judge, “I understand.” Even if the decision to grant him bail holds up, the court has yet to decide whether Assange will be extradited to Sweden with a hearing on that set for January 11.
Since we know there are at least some curious Tumblr fiends out there, Brooke says the apparently crush-worthy man of mystery was “looking more ashen then [sic] last week, wearing navy suit, open white shirt.”
This post has been modified from its original version to reflect updates to the case.
Julian Assange granted bail: live updates [Guardian UK]
British Court Frees Founder of WikiLeaks on Bail [NYT]
Related: Michael Moore Pledges $20,000 to Get Julian Assange Out of Solitary