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Assange to be freed on bail

Julian Assange will be freed on bail from a British jail, a U.K. judge ruled Thursday

AP, Thursday 16 Dec 2010
Mark Stephens,Julian Assange's lawyer talking to the media, Dec. 16 (AP)

Julian Assange will be freed on bail from a British jail, a U.K. judge ruled Thursday, rejecting an appeal by prosecutors to keep the WikiLeaks founder in prison as he fights an extradition request by Sweden.

Cheers erupted outside the London court as the verdict by High Court justice Duncan Ouseley was reported. The judge then outlined the bail conditions to Assange in a packed courtroom full of lawyers, journalists and supporters.

His lawyer Mark Stephens said Assange should be released from jail later in the day.

Assange has been in prison since Dec. 7, following his surrender to British police over a Swedish sex-crimes warrant. He denies wrongdoing but is refusing to surrender to Sweden's request to extradite him for questioning.

Assange was granted a conditional release on 200,000 pounds ($316,000) bail Tuesday, but prosecutors sought to keep him behind bars, arguing there was a risk he would flee.

Last month WikiLeaks deeply angered U.S. officials by beginning to publish its trove of 250,000 secret U.S.
diplomatic cables.

Lawyers acting for Sweden say Assange is accused of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion by two women for separate incidents in August in Sweden. He has not been charged.

Assange's lawyers say the allegations stem from a dispute over "consensual but unprotected sex" and argue that he has offered to make himself available for questioning via video link or in person in Britain.

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