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Assange Lawyer Says U.K., Not Sweden, Sought Appeal

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Julian Assange Lawyer Says U.K., Wanted Bail Appeal
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Wandsworth Prison. Photographer: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Julian Assange’s lawyer said that Sweden didn’t ask the U.K. government to appeal a judge’s ruling allowing the WikiLeaks founder to be released on bail and that it was “confusing” why the British prosecutors decided to appeal.

“The question is why did they make this decision if they said yesterday that they were acting on behalf of the Swedish authorities,” Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “It’s fair to say that this is all a bit fishy. The whole case really reeks.”

Assange, 39, turned himself in to U.K. authorities after Swedish police issued a warrant on one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape. WikiLeaks gained prominence after it released U.S. military documents, including a video of a July 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters television cameraman and his driver.

A London judge is hearing arguments by British prosecutors seeking to overturn the ruling that Assange can be released on bail while he fights the Swedish extradition request.

Stephens said prosecutors have withheld evidence that shows Assange’s innocence. Stephens regularly represents media organizations, including Bloomberg News.

“We know the two women were texting each other with material that was exculpatory of Julian,” Stephens said. “Yet the prosecutor has hidden that from us and hasn’t allowed it out.”

Stephens said that even if convicted, Assange wasn’t likely to face any prison time in Sweden on the kind of allegations that he faces.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elliott Gotkine in London at egotkine@bloomberg.net; Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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