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Assange backers landed with bail bill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 4:41am
 

Nine backers of Julian Assange must pay £93,500 (HK$1.6 million), after the WikiLeaks founder broke his bail conditions by seeking refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle, at Westminster Magistrates Court in London yesterday, said the group - who stood as sureties for Assange - must pay the court by November 6.

Assange has been in Ecuador's embassy since June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where prosecutors want to question him on sex assault allegations. Britain has insisted it will arrest the 41-year-old Australian if he leaves the embassy.

Vaughan Smith, a documentary maker and businessman who let Assange stay on bail in his country mansion for more than a year, last week addressed the court on behalf of the nine sureties, arguing why they should not lose their money.

In his judgment, Riddle acknowledged the nine backers had acted in good faith but said they must have known the risks when they leant their support.

"I accept they trusted Mr Assange to surrender himself as required. I accept they followed the proceedings and made necessary arrangements to remain in contact with him," he said. "However, they failed in their basic duty to ensure his surrender. They must have understood the concerns of the courts."

The other backers of Assange include retired professor Tricia David, Nobel Prize-winning scientist John Sulston, journalist Phillip Knightley, Lady Caroline Evans, friend Sarah Saunders, Joseph Farrell, Sarah Harrison and Tracy Worcester.

Assange's high-profile backers, such as socialite and journalist Jemima Khan and film director Ken Loach, were not affected.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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