Sunday 26 March 2017

Assange: No hope of fair trial if I'm brought to US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside Ellingham Hall, the home of his friend, journalist Vaughan Smith, in Norfolk, England December 17, 2010. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he and his organisation faced an aggressive investigation by U.S. authorities after the website released secret diplomatic cables. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS MEDIA)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside Ellingham Hall, the home of his friend, journalist Vaughan Smith, in Norfolk, England December 17, 2010. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he and his organisation faced an aggressive investigation by U.S. authorities after the website released secret diplomatic cables. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS MEDIA)

Liam Creedon in London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last night that he had no hope of a fair trial if he was extradited to the US.

The 39-year-old Australian believes the US is preparing to indict him on espionage charges because of the leak of thousands of diplomatic cables.

Wanted in Sweden for alleged sex offences, which he denies, he was released from prison on bail on Thursday and placed under house arrest.

Asked last night if he had confidence in receiving a fair and unbiased trial if extradited to the US, he replied: "Absolutely not."

A spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice would say only that there was an "investigation into the Wiki-Leaks matter".

The whistleblower left Wandsworth Prison on Thursday when a high court judge upheld a decision to grant him bail before a full extradition hearing next year.

British lawyers acting on behalf of the Swedish authorities appealed against the original decision, made by a judge at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Strict conditions attached to his bail include residing at Ellingham Hall, a country retreat on the Norfolk-Suffolk border owned by Vaughan Smith, the founder of London's Frontline journalism club.

Assange appeared confident and relaxed as he conducted a series of interviews yesterday.

The former hacker said he was expecting further smears against him soon, adding: "There's an allegation that the Swedish prosecution has leaked out selective parts of their file illegally."

Fishing

But he said he was now looking forward to spending some time on the sprawling rural estate after his jail release.

"I'm going to go out into the country and do some fishing.

"It makes a very significant change compared to being in a basement in solitary confinement."

Meanwhile, however, he fears there could be an "illegal investigation" being carried out into him.

He said he had still not been given any evidence relating to allegations he sexually assaulted two women in Stockholm in August.

Certain institutions were "engaged in what appears to be, certainly, a secret investigation, but appears also to be an illegal investigation," he said.

He added: "I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation, that a lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases.

"But that is actually something that needs monitoring."

Mr Smith said Mr Assange had previously visited his house and was a good friend. He said he was convinced the Australian was not guilty of the charges against him and that he was allowing him to stay at his home as "an act of principle".

He said: "I knew Julian well and obviously it's a very contentious matter, and I love journalism.

"I felt it was important to make a stand and I was very concerned that Julian received justice, and I wanted to express my support."

He said he had not increased security at the property in light of his new guest.

Irish Independent

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