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March 9, 2021
WORLD

Julian Assange granted bail at UK high court

LONDON – The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted conditional bail by a judge. The 39-year-old was granted bail in London earlier this week but prosecutors objected to the decision and he remained in jail. The Australian is fighting extradition to Sweden over sex charges involving two women. He denies the allegations. is supporters have offered to put up a surety of £240,000 to guarantee he surrenders to bail. The appeal was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by Justice Ouseley. Earlier the judge made a ruling banning the use of Twitter to give a blow-by-blow account of Thursday’s proceedings. Assange has received the backing of a number of high-profile supporters including human rights campaigners Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger, and film director Ken Loach. Wikileaks has published hundreds of sensitive American diplomatic cables, details of which have appeared in the Guardian in the UK and several other newspapers around the world.


Assange’s supporters claim the charges are politically motivated He has come under criticism in the US where former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said he should be hunted down like the al-Qaeda leadership. Assange argues the allegations against him are politically motivated and designed to take attention away from the material appearing on Wikileaks. He is accused of having unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom. He is also accused of having unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep. Bail conditions stipulate that Assange must stay at a country house in Suffolk owned by Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline club in west London, report to police daily and wear an electronic tag. Meanwhile, it emerged that the decision to have Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden. It had been widely supposed that Sweden had taken the decision to oppose bail, with the Crown Prosecution Service acting merely as its representative. But the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail. Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden’s prosecutor’s office, said: “Sweden would not submit any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing. “The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail.”


NEW CABLES ON CUBA: FIDEL CASTRO ‘NEARLY DIED’


Cuban leader Fidel Castro came close to death in 2006, according to the latest secret US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. Mr Castro almost died after suffering a perforated intestine during an internal flight, unnamed sources told US diplomats in Havana. The illness led Mr Castro to hand power to his brother Raul, although he has since returned to public life. The 84-year-old’s health is considered a state secret in Cuba.


The Wikileaks cables, published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, reveal the intense efforts made by US diplomats in Havana to find out the nature of Fidel Castro’s illness and his chances of recovery.
The names of the sources of information reported in the cables have been redacted by Wikileaks, but some apparently knew people who were close to the Cuban leader, or had access to his medical records.

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