Julian Assange, founder of the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, which has caused the U.S. government much grief recently, was granted bail by the High Court in London on Thursday, Dec. 16. Assange was freed while he addresses a warrant connected to alleged sex offenses in Sweden, The New York Times reports.
Assange was initially granted a conditional release on 200,000 pounds ($316,000) bail on Tuesday, Dec. 14 but prosecutors insisted that he be detained for fear that he would flee. Last month U.S. officials were outraged as WikiLeaks began publishing its 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Assange has been in jail since Dec. 7 when he turned himself in to London authorities over a Swedish warrant that charged Assange with several sex crimes. Though he claims that he is innocent the WikiLeaks founder refuses to comply with an extradition from Sweden for questioning. Instead, he has offered to submit to questioning through video link or in person on British soil. The charges he faces include rape, molestation and unlawful coercion by two women on separate occasions. However, according to Assange’s lawyers the allegations are, in fact, a dispute over “consensual but unprotected sex”.
Assange’s bail, however, comes with heavy restrictions that would prevent him from trying to escape. These restrictions were imposed by a lower court on Tuesday by the prosecutors who filed an appeal claiming Assange was a flight risk, and were later added to by High Court Justice Duncan Ouseley.
The lower court’s bail restrictions require that Mr. Assange must spend every night at Ellingham Hall, a 10-bedroom Georgian home on a 650-acre estate. Conditions for the stay include a curfew, daily visits to the police and electronic tagging to enable the police to track him. Judge Ounsley’s additional conditions demand that he be restricted to a small area around the estate and also sought additional financial guarantees from at least two of Assange’s closest associates, Sarah Harrison and Joseph Farrell. With the sureties the total bail amount came to $370,000.
The time of Assange’s release, however has not yet been clarified. According to one of Assange’s attorneys, Mark Stephens, if the formalities surrounding Assange’s release were not finalized soon Assange would have to return to Wandsworth prison and be released later in the day when details were finalized.