Wikileaks' Julian Assange 'fears extradition to US'

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he is worried about an attempt to extradite him to the United States.

Mr Assange, 39, is free on bail in the UK while facing extradition proceedings to Sweden over sex allegations.

Mr Assange denies the Swedish allegations, made by two women, and says the case is politically motivated.

He said:"The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly likely."

He said the US was conducting an "aggressive" and "illegal" investigation into him and the website.

"A lot of face has been lost by some people and some... have careers to make by pursuing a famous case," said Mr Assange, who is living at the home of supporter Vaughan Smith, near Bungay in Suffolk.

Speaking to reporters in the grounds of the house he said some people appeared to be "engaged in what appears to be, certainly a secret investigation, but appears also to be an illegal investigation".

Mr Assange said he suspected an espionage indictment was being prepared in the US and he condemned the secrecy which surrounded his case.

The Australian said Wikileaks was a "robust" organisation which will continue to publish information. He said it had so far published only 2,000 out of the 250,000 cables.

He said: "During my time in solitary confinement in the basement of a Victorian prison, my colleagues were publishing material." He highlighted allegations published on Friday about India torturing people in Kashmir.

'Continuing vendetta'

At a hearing at the High Court in London on Thursday, Mr Justice Ouseley ordered Mr Assange be bailed on payment of £240,000 in cash and sureties.

The judge imposed strict bail conditions including wearing an electronic tag, reporting to police every day and observing a curfew.

Mr Assange must also reside at the manor home on the Norfolk-Suffolk border owned by Mr Smith, a Wikileaks-supporting journalist and owner of the Frontline Club in London.

On Friday Mr Assange said: "I'm going to go out into the country and do some fishing. It makes a very significant change compared to being in a basement in solitary confinement."

Mr Assange's solicitor Mark Stephens said after the court appearance the bail appeal was part of a "continuing vendetta by the Swedes".

Speaking to the BBC after his release Mr Assange said there was a rumour from his lawyers in the US there had been an indictment made against him by a grand jury.

A spokeswoman from the US Department of Justice would only confirm there was "an ongoing investigation into the Wikileaks matter".

In an interview for US television, Mr Assange denied any knowledge of former US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing Wikileaks with classified reports that could lead to Mr Assange's indictment on spy charges in the US.

He told ABC's Good Morning America the website's computer system was designed to maintain the anonymity of sources who give sensitive government documents.

Bradley Manning, 23, was charged earlier this year with obtaining the classified video of a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq and downloading more than 150,000 US State Department documents.

Sex allegations

Mr Assange has received the backing of a number of high-profile supporters, including human rights campaigners Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger, and film director Ken Loach.

Wikileaks has published hundreds of sensitive American diplomatic cables, details of which have appeared in the Guardian in the UK and several other newspapers around the world.

He has been criticised in the US, where former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said he should be hunted down like the al-Qaeda leadership.

Mr Assange argues the allegations against him are designed to take attention away from the material appearing on Wikileaks - but the Swedish authorities say the case has not been brought because of outside "pressure".

He is accused of having unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom.

Mr Assange is also accused of having unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.

Mr Smith said Mr Assange was a good friend and had previously stayed at his house.

He said: "I knew Julian well and obviously it's a very contentious matter and I love journalism.

"I felt it was important to make a stand and I was very concerned that Julian received justice and I wanted to express my support."

Mr Smith said he had not employed any security guards to protect Mr Assange and he added: "If the police fear there is a real threat of that I'm sure they will do what is necessary to protect me."

It is possible a full extradition hearing will not take place for several months.

At that hearing Mr Assange will be able to challenge the warrant and raise any defences to the extradition request.

Have you got a question for Anonymous? Members of the pro-Wikileaks activist group will be taking calls and e-mails on a special edition of World Have Your Say at 1800 GMT on Friday on BBC World Service radio. Post a comment or question on the World Have Your Say blog.

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