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Assange’s backers lose thousands of pounds in bail money - September-04-12
Source: The Times - Law
They won’t get back the £200,000 security money they paid to keep Mr Assange out of custody during his failed legal battle against extradition to Sweden on sex charges
Several of Julian Assange’s celebrity backers, including socialite Jemima Khan, have lost most of the £340,000 bail money put up before he went into hiding at the Ecuadorean embassy, it has emerged.
Ms Khan, film-makers Ken Loach and Michael Moore, John Pilger, the Australian journalist, and Felix Dennis, the publisher, will not get back the £200,000 security money they paid to keep Mr Assange out of custody during his failed legal battle against extradition to Sweden on sex charges.
The news came as all of the further nine backers acting as sureties failed to attend Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday for what was their last chance to rescue an additional £140,000 offered as a guarantee that the Wikileaks founder would not jump bail. They were, however, granted another month to argue their case.
District judge Howard Riddle said: “It’s absolutely striking that none of the sureties is here. One can understand somebody is in Afghanistan, somebody else is on their summer holidays. We have no explanation from the others.”
Those missing from the hearing included two members of the British aristocracy, two close advisers to Mr Assange and the owners of both his bail addresses at which he stayed.
Despite the loss, Sarah Saunders, who runs Picnic Anywhere, a catering company, and promised £20,000 of the money, hosted Mr Assange at her Surrey home when he broke a curfew monitored by electronic tag and holed up in the embassy.
Marchioness Tracy Worcester, 53, an environmentalist and former model, promised £10,000, and Lady Caroline Evans, wife of the former Labour minister Lord Evans, offered £20,000 which, at the initial extradition hearing in February last year, she said would come from her savings.
Vaughan Smith, 48, the founder of the Frontline club in Notting Hill, who provided his Norfolk mansion Ellingham Hall as a bail address, stands to lose £20,000, as do Sir John Sulston, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist, and former Sunday Times journalist Philip Knightly.
Sarah Harrison and Joseph Farrell, close advisors to Mr Assange who are seen daily at the Ecuadorean embassy, each put up £5,000.
Henry Blaxland QC argued that until the diplomatic feud was over, the sureties could not be expected to persuade Mr Assange to give himself up. But Judge Riddle said: “I am not persuaded that any reasonable surety would not make every effort both publicly and privately to persuade Mr Assange to give himself up to the UK authorities.”
The Australian, who is resisting extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault, has entered his third month in hiding at the Ecuadorean embassy in Knightsbridge, Central London.
He has been granted political asylum by Ecuador on the grounds that they believe he will be further extradited on charges of espionage and sedition to the USA, where he could face the death penalty.
The surety hearing was adjourned until October 3.
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