Assange backers must pay £93,500 over skipped bail

Assange backers must pay £93,500 over skipped bail

Summary: Nine people who put up bail of £140,000 for the WikiLeaks editor must forfeit most of it, a court has ruled, since Assange refuses to surrender to British police.

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Nine supporters of Julian Assange have been ordered to hand over £93,500 in guarantees lost after the WikiLeaks editor skipped bail.

The nine, who include a Nobel prize winner and a veteran investigative journalist, put up £140,000 in bail sureties for Assange, who decamped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange gives a statement from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 19 August. Image: Z Whittaker/C Osborne

Those supporters must now pay thousands of pounds each by 6 November, chief magistrate Howard Riddle ruled on Monday. The judge said he had taken into account the financial hardship some of them would face, as well as their "integrity", and would not ask them to pay the full forfeit.

"In declining to publicly... urge Mr Assange to surrender himself, they have acted against self-interest," Riddle said in his ruling at Westminster Magistrates' Court. "They have acted on their beliefs and principles throughout. In what is sometimes considered to be a selfish age, that is admirable."

The group of backers, which includes leading scientist Sir John Sulston, journalist Phillip Knightley and Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, first pledged bail for Assange in December 2010.

Since then, the WikiLeaks founder has fought a long legal battle against being taken to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual coercion, fearing he will be deported from there to the US to face charges relating to the leak of thousands of sensitive US diplomatic cables.

Last week, Smith went up before the magistrates' court on behalf of all nine supporters, to make the case they should keep all of the money they put up for bail. He argued that the case has become an international matter and is no longer able to be influenced by individuals.

"We never envisaged when we became sureties that the matter would become a diplomatic argument, and it is clear that this needs to be resolved at diplomatic level," he told the court, according to The Guardian.

Riddle said he accepted the backers had acted in good faith and had expected Assange to hand himself over when called on by the police. "However, they failed in their basic duty, to ensure his surrender," he said.

Under his order (PDF), Caroline Evans, Knightley and Sulston must all pay £15,000; Smith and Sarah Saunders, £12,000; Tricia David, £10,000; Tracey Worcester, £7,500; Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison, £3,500.

Topics: Security, Censorship, Legal, EU, United Kingdom

Karen Friar

About Karen Friar

Karen Friar is news editor for ZDNet in the UK, based in London. She started out in film journalism in San Francisco, before making the switch to tech coverage at ZDNet.com. Next came a move to CNET News.com, where she looked after west coast coverage of business technology, and finally a return to her homeland with ZDNet UK.

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13 comments
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  • Why is this even a question?

    They put up the bail. He skipped. They forfeit. That's the way bail works.
    cornpie
    • Agreed

      "The judge said he had taken into account the financial hardship some of them would face, as well as their "integrity", and would not ask them to pay the full forfeit."

      This is irrelevant. If they pledged a certain amount then that's the amount they lose despite financial hardship.
      ye
      • Those of the Left...

        can't see the cause and effect as clearly as others.

        They believe in what they were doing and it's (to them) undeniable righteousness, so believe the law should not apply to them (eg its for bad people).

        It's a very common trait for their collective, and unsurprisingly infants.
        Richard Flude
  • Exactly

    As much as I may be sympathetic to his cause and struggle, that is the way it works. You can see the judge feeling similarly.
    D.T.Long
  • assange bail

    as a supporter of julian i would happily contribute to a fund to spread the load amongst many supporters.
    i hope that someone with integrity launches such an appeal.
    thomas vesely
    • Nobody with integrity

      would back that piece of human offal. They got less than they deserved. If he's not the rapist I believe he is, he should do what any law abiding citizen is required to do...appear in court. The problem is he thinks he's above the law.
      timspublic1@...
      • It's inherently obvious to the most casual observer...

        that the entire 'extradition' attempt is nothing more than an attempt to get Assange to the USA.

        Remember, He has not been charged with a crime. He is wanted for questioning. If all the Swedish authorities actually wanted was to have questions answered, they could simply send officers to the UK or even call him on the telephone.
        Letophoro
        • Where's the Proof?

          Not seen one bit of evidence to suggest America is trying to "get him to America".
          I'd probably be on his side if it did happen but while he keeps trying to dodge his responsibility he only gets my scorn!

          Time for Assange to MAN UP!

          Martin
          martin_js
          • So your position is to be on someone's side AFTER he's beyond help.

            Nice.

            Assange offered to answer the questions of Swedish police on UK soil. The Swedes refused. Interestingly enough, that was after the UK government told the US government to get lost WRT to Assange being extradited to the US.
            Letophoro
  • What a laugh!

    Using the words "julian" &"integrity" in the same comment! You are one funny guy.
    IT_Fella
  • Seems fair to me

    If you put up bail on behalf of another person, you're guaranteeing that he will appear in court. Mr. Assange declined to appear, so the bond is forfeit.

    The usual recourse is to hire a bounty hunter, but I don't think that's going to happen in this case.
    John L. Ries
  • So this will apply to all fines etc?

    So can you get a parking fine reduced because you'll face hardship paying?

    They ought to send Max Cherry (from Jackie Brown) after them!
    Random_Error
  • bail money forfeit is fine, extradition attempt isn't

    There's no good reason questioning can't happen pretty much anywhere, even in the Equadorian embassy. What if the Swedish government go on record saying he wont be extradited to the USA? Would he go for questioning in Sweden then?

    At this point, the timeline of events supports the USA/Swedish government conspiricy
    Mytheroo