World

Wikileaks chief Julian Assange 'remains defiant'

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he is determined to continue releasing secret documents, despite being held on remand in a British jail.

Mr Assange, 39, said his "convictions are unfaltering", in a statement read out by his mother on Australian TV.

The Australian, who faces extradition to Sweden over sex offence claims, will appear in court later to ask for bail.

His website recently embarrassed the US by publishing thousands of classified diplomatic cables.

Mr Assange, who denies sexually assaulting two women in Sweden, was remanded in custody last week, ahead of a full extradition hearing.

His lawyers have repeatedly claimed that the allegations against him are politically motivated.

But Swedish prosecutors say the case is a matter of criminal law.

Support plea

In a brief statement, which his mother Christine said she copied down while talking to him from Wandsworth jail in London, Mr Assange said he was determined to "remain true to his ideals".

"These circumstances shall not shake them. If anything, this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct," he said.

He also lashed out at several financial firms for withdrawing their services from his whistle-blowing website, which relies largely on online donations for its funding.

"We now know that Visa, Mastercard and Paypal are instruments of US foreign policy," he said in the statement read by Ms Assange on Australia's Channel 7.

"I am calling on the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral acts."

Wikileaks has published hundreds of thousands of classified documents this year - including military communications from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His supporters say he is championing freedom of speech, but US politicians have accused him of putting people's lives at risk.

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