Bail for Assange

by Amy Davidson 

A British judge has granted bail to Julian Assange, denying a British government appeal that that he not do so. (Whether the appeal was made on behalf of, or in consultation with, the Swedes is a point of contention.) The judge did increase the bail amount to two hundred and forty thousand pounds, and said that Assange had to stay at an estate called Ellingham Hall that belongs to Vaughan Smith, a journalist, where he will have to wear an electronic tag and can’t wander around the grounds. He might be freed quite soon; according to the latest updates (via the Guardian) the court clerks are staying late to try and get it done.

The scramble to round up people who could guarantee bail and seemed, to the court, respectable enough to do so produced this odd moment, captured in a Guardian live update:

3.04pm: The veteran journalist John Pilger was rejected as one of the sureties. The judge described him in court as “another peripatetic Australian” like Assange.

Another one? Which country has had more stereotypes about it thrown around in all this—Australia or Sweden? (Actually, Sweden probably wins that one.) Anyway, Assange’s team came up with several people who the court found sufficiently steady; maybe it helped that, at last count, at least three of them had titles (four, if you count Professor along with Sir, Sir, and Lord).

[UPDATE: He’s out, and has made a statement—above—about his reflection “from the bottom of a Victorian prison.” Watching it, one feels the tug of the need to be cautious about the lure of the leader figure, and remember that WikiLeaks and Assange are not exactly the same thing. There are many questionable aspects of the handling of this case by the British, but it is worth remembering that the allegations at their heart are not about classified documents—and a case like that, which may be in the works, would be deeply troubling; see below—but about what may have happened to two women in Sweden. It takes nothing away from the value of WikiLeaks to say that.]

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