Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WikiLeaks' Assange Jailed; Vows To Fight Extradition


The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is behind bars in Britain tonight. He was remanded into custody after a short hearing at a court in London. Assange is fighting an attempt to extradite him to Sweden.

NPR's Philip Reeves has the latest.

(Soundbite of protest)

PHILIP REEVES: Assange is hated by the U.S. government and its allies. Yet, the 39-year-old Australian has plenty of followers. Some were at Westminster Magistrates' Court today, along with a large crowd of journalists to greet him as his car pulled in.

(Soundbite of crowd)

Unidentified Man: (unintelligible). We love you.

REEVES: Earlier, Assange turned himself in at a London police station, where he was arrested under a warrant from Sweden. He's accused of sexual assault and rape, allegations that stem from encounters between Assange and two women in Sweden in August. Assange denies the accusations, saying they're politically motivated. In court, Assange was asked if he'd consent to being extradited to Sweden. He said no.

His lawyers asked for bail. Six people were there offering to put up thousands of dollars. Among them were the movie director Ken Loach, campaigning journalist John Pilger, and the heiress Jemima Khan. However, the judge remanded Assange into custody, citing, among other things, the seriousness of the alleged offenses.

Outside, Assange's attorney, Mark Stevens, said he expected to appeal against the refusal of bail.

Mr. MARK STEVENS (Attorney): Many people will come forward to stand assurances for Mr. Assange. Many people believe Mr. Assange to be innocent, myself included. And many people believe that this prosecution is politically motivated.

REEVES: Assange is tonight in London's Wandsworth Prison, a Victorian era lockup. He's expected to stay there until another court hearing next Tuesday. Analysts say his extradition case could drag on for weeks, if not months. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks says it'll continue publishing secret cables.

Philip Reeves, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.