Assange 'based himself at London journalists club'

8th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange based himself for much of the past few months at a journalists club in London, the founder of the club said on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Australian was remanded in custody on Tuesday in Britain after being refused bail at a London court over claims of sex crimes in Sweden.

He was widely thought to have been in the British capital in recent months and that was confirmed by Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club in central London.

"He based himself at the Frontline Club for most of the period," Smith told AFP, referring to the past few months but saying he could not give an exact timeframe. Smith also said he had offered Assange an address for bail.

Assange denies sexually assaulting two women in Sweden and has said he will fight an extradition request.

His detention came as his website continued to release tens of thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables, causing embarrassment for governments worldwide.

Over the past several months, apart from trips abroad, Assange was staying at the club, Smith said.

Assange was given facilities to carry out his work at the club, where he also took part in several public debates on his whistleblower website WikiLeaks and the state of the modern media, said Smith.

"He came to us," explained the club founder. "Essentially because we are independent... he felt it would be a reasonably safe place for him to operate out of.

"It was also somewhere he could access journalists and speak to them."

Smith said that he had attended Assange's court appearance on Tuesday to offer his support.

"I am suspicious of the personal charges that have been made against Mr Assange and hope that this will be properly resolved by the courts," he added in a statement.

Video journalist Smith, 47, set up the Frontline Club seven years ago in honour of colleagues at the Frontline Television News agency who died pursuing their work, according to the club's website.

It regularly hosts talks by journalists and debates on the media, as well as documentary and film screenings.

© 2010 AFP

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