Assange's lawyer plays down court appearance report

7th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to appear in a British court on Tuesday, a newspaper reported, but his lawyer said he knew nothing about an imminent court appearance.

Britain's Guardian daily reported the 39-year-old Australian would appear in court after his lawyer said he would meet British police to discuss a Swedish request for his extradition over alleged sexual assaults.

The newspaper said he would appear in court to negotiate a bail, citing unnamed sources. The founder of the whistleblower website was seeking supporters to put up surety and bail for him, said the paper.

It added that Assange had said he expected to have to post bail of between 100,000 pounds (160,000 dollars, 120,000 euros) and 200,000 pounds and would need up to six people offering surety.

But Assange's British lawyer Mark Stephens played down the report of an imminent court appearance, telling AFP: "They know more than I do. I haven't even seen a warrant yet.

"I don't know why they printed it, perhaps that is what they are hoping."

"I have not concluded any arrangements with the police at this time," he added.

Assange has been been at the centre of global controversy after WikiLeaks started releasing some 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables, which have caused embarrassment for governments across the world.

He is widely thought to be in Britain, although Stephens earlier refused to comment on his whereabouts.

Media reports last week suggested that police in Britain could not arrest Assange because the original warrant issued in Stockholm was incomplete.

The Stockholm district court had ordered on November 18 an arrest warrant for Assange for questioning on suspicion of "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion" in Sweden in August.

Swedish prosecutors issued a new international warrant on Friday. Assange has denied the charges.

© 2010 AFP

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