LONDON — A British judge ordered Julian Assange released on $316,000 bail yesterday, but the WikiLeaks founder will remain in custody for at least two more days after Swedish prosecutors challenged that decision.
Assange has spent a week in a UK jail following his surrender to British police over a Swedish sex-crimes warrant. He denies any wrongdoing but has refused to voluntarily surrender to Sweden’s request to extradite him for questioning, arguing that he could be questioned from Britain.
In a day of courtroom drama, the 39-year-old Australian was first told by a judge that he would be freed, then less than two hours later was informed he had at least another 48 hours in custody.
Britain’s High Court will hear the Swedish appeal, but it wasn’t clear exactly when.
“They clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr. Assange in jail,’’ his lawyer, Mark Stephens, told journalists outside the entrance to the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. “This is really turning into a show trial.’’
Gemma Lindfield, a lawyer acting for Sweden, had asked the court to deny Assange bail, arguing that the allegations against him were serious, that he had only weak ties to Britain, and he had “the means and ability to abscond.’’
Reminding the court that it had already labeled Assange a flight risk, she argued that “nothing has changed since last week to allay the court’s fears in this regard.’’
She also rejected attempts to link Assange’s case with the work of WikiLeaks, which last month deeply angered US officials by beginning to publish a trove of secret US diplomatic cables.