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Julian Assange's bail backers to lose €252,000 bail money


Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

JULIAN Assange's high profile backers, including socialite Jemima Khan, are understood to have lost the £200,000 (€252,000) they posted for his bail as he remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The Wikileaks founder breached the conditions by seeking political asylum before he was due to be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

A raft of high-profile figures including socialite Jemima Khan, journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and publisher Felix Dennis have all confirmed they raised the cash as security to help free him which a judge ordered be forfeited at an earlier hearing.

Nine high profile backers, including two members of the British aristocracy, a Nobel Prize winner and an academic, will today be told at Westminster Magistrates Court whether the £140,000 they promised between them if he refused to surrender to the authorities will also be lost.

Ms Khan and the other celebrities who have confirmed they backed him financially are understood to have already handed over the cash as a security, meaning it was deposited with the court and they were not named on official documents as his supporters.

The remaining nine all promised money as sureties when he was bailed in December 2010 meaning they would only have to hand over the money if he failed to surrender.

Today's hearing is for them to show cause as to why they should not pay the money.

Amongst those offering £20,000 sureties were retired Professor Tricia David; Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston, who helped unravel the human genome; former Sunday Times journalist Philip Knightley; Lady Caroline Evans, wife of former Labour minister Lord Evans; his personal friend Sarah Saunders, a catering manager; and Frontline Club founder Captain Vaughan Smith, who provided his Norfolk Country mansion as a bail address.

Marchioness Tracy Worcester, 53, the model and actress turned environmental campaigner, offered £10,000 while his Wikileaks assistants Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison, both agreed to £5,000.

When he sought asylum Assange was subject to bail conditions of living and sleeping each night at Ms Saunders home in Kent, report each day to a police station, and adhere to an electronically tagged curfew between 10pm and 8am.

The 41-year-old Australian has been holed-up in the South American embassy for 12 weeks today and faces immediate arrest if he leaves as the Foreign Secretary has refused to ensure him safe passage out of the country.

Assange has vowed to stay inside his quarters in Knightsbridge for as long as it takes for Sweden to drop the allegations of sexual assault against two women in Stockholm in 2010.

He claims to fear he will be extradited on to America because of his role in leaking thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables and military files.

He sought asylum just days after Britain's highest court, the Supreme Court, refused to reopen his appeal against extradition. He was expected to be extradited within two weeks but could have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.