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Thursday
Dec162010

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Granted Bail; Money 'Secured'

Photo Courtesy - Bertil Ericson/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerged from a London prison with his hands raised Thursday, into the bright lights of camera flashes after he posted $315,000 bail stemming from sexual assault charges.

In his first appearance since his arrest early this week, Assange thanked his supporters for helping to raise the bail. He said his lawyers waged a "brave and ultimately successful fight...in the face of great difficulty and diversion" to free him.

"It's great to smell the fresh air of London again," he said. Assange thanked the British court system, saying, "If justice is not always the outcome, at least it is not dead yet."

"I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter," Assange said.

The judge denied an appeal against granting bail earlier Thursday, saying he did not believe Assange would run if granted bail because that would make all his supporters look "naive, foolish and stupid."

Assange's mother was at the London courtroom, along with Vaughn Smith, the man who offered Assange a place to stay in his 10-bedroom estate in England should he be freed.

Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who is at the center of controversy over posting more than a quarter of a million secret U.S. documents online, had been held in a London prison on sexual assault charges, including rape, originating out of Sweden.  On Tuesday, a judge granted him $315,000 bond, but Swedish prosecutors appealed the decision.

Several supporters have offered to assist in paying Assange's bail, including documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who pledged $20,000.

If he is able to post the bond, Assange must surrender his passport and remain in the United Kingdom where he plans to stay with a friend, the London judge ruled Tuesday.  He will have an electronic tag to verify that he is at that address overnight and must report daily to police.

Assange has been held in solitary confinement -- for his own protection, the jail said.  His lawyers said he is being held in a wing normally reserved for convicted criminals, cut off from other prisoners and is only allowed outside the cell for a half hour each day. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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