Following his arrest yesterday, Julian Assange has been taken to hearing at City of Westminster magistrates court, where details of the charges laid against him have been finally brought to the open.
He was denied bail – despite the fact that a number of well known UK public figures offered sureties in the total amount of £180,000. The judge has reached this decision on account of Assange having “weak community ties” in the UK and means to escape – even though his face has become so recognizable that the possibility of him leaving the country is almost nonexistent. According to the Daily Mail, Gemma Lindfield, the solicitor representing the Swedish authorities, pointed out that his detainment is also a way to protect him from harm.
He is currently being held in Wandsworth Prison, and is scheduled to appear again before the Westminster Magistrate Court on December 14. He and his lawyers are determined to fight to stop the extradition process that would see him delivered to Sweden authorities, but it is still to early to speculate whether they might succeed – or at least prolong it considerably.
But there is one point on which the judge might not have been right. Following PayPal’s and the Swiss Bank Post Finance’s freezing of WikiLeaks’ and Julian Assange’s accounts, the Guardian reports that Visa and Mastercard have also suspended payments to the organization. WikiLeaks is repeatedly issuing pleas for donations, but it seems that the problem will soon be how to get the money to them. Predictably, Anonymous-backed Operation Payback has turned their attention to Mastercard’s site, which has been downed by a DDoS attack.
According to Milo Yiannopoulos, Assange made a critical mistake when he announced that damning information about a big US bank will soon be released. He thinks that this announcement has made financial institutions band together and deny service to the organization by offering various reasons.
The US is satisfied with the development of the situation. “That sounds like good news to me,” said Defence secretary Robert Gates when asked to comment Assange’s arrest. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is pointing a finger at the New York Times and the other news organizations that have been working with WikiLeaks to release the cables, threatening an investigation and charges under the US Espionage Act.
In the meantime, WikiLeaks is undeterred by all the bad news. “Today’s actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won’t affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal,” they tweeted yesterday, and made good on their promise. In a statement they also said that the State Department announced the US will host next year’s UNESCO Press Freedom day. “The irony is not lost on us. We hope in future, UNESCO celebrates press freedom somewhere where it exists,” they added.