WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Granted Bail
Just one day after winning the Time Magazine online poll for "Person of the Year," Julian Assange, founder of the secrets outlet WikiLeaks, has been granted bail.
He had been sitting in a British prison pending extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault not connected to WikiLeaks' release of secret US State Department cables. His lawyers suggested the arrest was part of a larger plot to have Assange extradited to the US, where he may yet face espionage charges.
Though granted bail, Assange may not actually be freed on Tuesday, as it was already late afternoon when the ruling came down and prosecutors had time to appeal the decision. One of his supporters, Sarah Saunders, offered the court £150,000 -- or "pretty much all I'm worth," according to a reporter on the scene -- to ensure Assange did not flee.
He also received help from US filmmaker Michael Moore, who offered $20,000 for Assange's bail. He called the WikiLeaks founder "a pioneer of free speech" and said he'd host their site on his own web servers if needed.
Bail was set at $315,000, or 200,000 pounds UK.
Once the decision was announced, the courtroom erupted with cheers, according to The Guardian.
The court required that Assange surrender his passport, submit to a curfew and wear a tracking device.
In an MSNBC live broadcast, a reporter suggested that "the whole of the world's media" and a massive throng of supporters had gathered outside the courtroom, and that the scene was one of celebration.
But not everyone was happy. Republican strategist Boris Epshteyn, speaking to MSNBC, claimed that Assange was "out there murdering individuals."
"He's costing people's lives and putting our people, our men and women in uniform, in harm's way and I really despise him for that," the former McCain adviser said.
"US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure," Assange wrote last week, in an editorial published the day he went to jail. "The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published."
Award-winning journalist and documentarian John Pilger also told MSNBC, "there is no case against Julian Assange," adding that it's a "disgrace" for the British to keep him in solitary confinement for so long.