Julian Assange’s Backers Set to Lose £140,000 Surety Cash

By @ibtimesau on

An English court will decide in the next few days if the surety bond of 140,000 euros or $220,000 for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be forfeited following his adamant refusal to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London told the nine sureties led by documentary film director and businessman Vaughan Smith that a ruling on the matter should be out shortly.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle informed Mr Smith and his companions that they notified on the court decision, which he said will be made without another court hearing.

Judge Riddle explained too that he would not be compelled to issue a hastily-designed ruling "because there's a lot to read and a fair amount to think about."

An earlier bail of £200,000 put up by the high-profile friends and supporters of Mr Assange was earlier lost when the Australian national fled into Ecuador's London mission in late June to seek asylum protection, which was granted in August by Quito.

Yet Mr Assange cannot avail of the Ecuadorian government refuge and fly out as British authorities have vowed that he will be arrested the moment he steps out of the embassy compound.

In a statement read out before the court by the defence lawyer of Mr Vaughan and the other sureties, it was argued that "we don't see how justice is served by punishing us for having done our best to serve the public interest in this complex and challenging case."

"We submit that the sureties are wholly blameless, that we have worked assiduously to help Mr Assange to meet the requirements of the court," AFP reported the group's court statement as saying.

The group further argued that Mr Assange's case was both unique and exceptional and the sureties' collective action of vouching for him was motivated by the desire to help seek justice for a man perceived as being wrongly persecuted by powerful governments.

"We never envisaged when we agreed to become sureties that the matter would become a diplomatic argument and it is clear that this needs to be resolved at a governmental level," BBC reported the statement as saying.

At the same time, Mr Smith's group has insisted that "we all want Mr Assange to be able to clear his name and have done everything with our diminishing influence to see the current impasse resolved and justice served."

The sureties assured though that a consensus has been reached not to persuade the embattled whistleblower not to escape in any way from Ecuadorian embassy lest each of the group members would feel like "mercenary and contemptible individuals."

Mr Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy for more than three months, desperate to evade extradition moves by Britain that would see him deported to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault charges.

The Aussie national has dismissed the charges as fabricated and mere covers for him to end up in the United States, where key government figures wanted him to face the U.S justice system.

Mr Assange claimed that for the published diplomatic dispatches on WikiLeaks, Washington has been working to put him on trial for espionage and sedition, both punishable either by life imprisonment or death.

The U.S. Justice Department has consistently denied Mr Assange's allegations but his Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, had earlier claimed that Washington could easily indict his client.

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