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WikiLeaks’ Assange to Give Press Arguments Against Extradition

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, right, speaks to the press with his lawyer Mark Stephens after appearing at Belmarsh Magistrates court in London. Photographer: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the outline of his arguments for why he shouldn’t be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault claims will be provided to the media before a court hearing set for next month.

His lawyers have “asked the court to make available to members of the press our skeleton argument, which we’ve had to produce in very short time,” Assange said outside of a London court following a hearing today.

Mark Stephens, who represents Assange, said the arguments may be available as soon as this afternoon via his law firm’s website. The extradition hearing is scheduled to begin Feb. 7.

Assange had his bail renewed by District Judge Nicholas Evans while he awaits the extradition hearing. Lawyers for Assange have said the accusations in Sweden are politically motivated and tied to the actions of WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes secret documents on its website. Assange faces allegations, by two separate Swedish women, of sexual molestation and rape.

Evans agreed to allow Assange, who has been under curfew at the eastern England home of his friend Vaughan Smith, to stay at Smith’s Frontline Club in London for the February hearing.

WikiLeaks drew condemnation for posting thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables and military documents, including a video of a 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters television cameraman and his driver.

‘Unabated’

Following the hearing, Assange said his work at WikiLeaks continues “unabated.” The site will step up publishing “for matters related to cablegate,” as he referred to the U.S. diplomatic correspondence. The information will be appearing soon in newspapers around the world that partner with WikiLeaks, he said.

Assange spent a week in jail and was released after posting bail of 200,000 pounds ($311,500), turning in his passport and agreeing to wear an electronic tag. At least nine friends and supporters agreed to offer a total of 75,000 pounds of additional guarantees for Assange’s bail.

The arrest warrant was sought by Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, who started her investigation on Sept. 1, after another prosecutor dropped the rape charge and reduced the molestation charges.

Stephens has said his client tried repeatedly to meet with the Swedish prosecutor when he was in Sweden and hasn’t seen the evidence against him.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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