Julian Assange top story
The founder of investigative journalism club the Frontline Club has spoken out in defence of the WikiLeaks' founder and editor Julian Assange, following his arrest yesterday.

Assange was arrested over allegations of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden. He was refused bail by the judge at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court and will be remanded in custody until a hearing expected next week, where he could be extradited to face the charges in Sweden.

WikiLeaks' is part way through the release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables sent from US embassies across the world, which have been published by the website and via partner media organisations, including the Guardian.

In court yesterday the WikiLeaks' founder gave the address of the Frontline Club when asked for his address. In a statement released last night, Vaughan Smith said that Assange has spent "much of the last several months" working from the Frontline Club and had been offered the address for bail. Smith also attended court yesterday to show his support for Assange "on a point of principle", he says.

"In the face of a concerted attempt to shut him down and after a decade since 9/11 that has been characterised by manipulation of the media by the authorities, the information released by Wikileaks is a refreshing glimpse into an increasingly opaque world.

"The Frontline Club was founded seven years ago to stand for independence and  transparency. Recent informal canvassing of many of our more than 1,500 members at the Frontline Club suggests almost all are supportive of our position.

"I am suspicious of the personal charges that have been made against Mr Assange and hope that this will be properly resolved by the courts. Certainly no credible charges have been brought regarding the leaking of the information itself."

Investigative journalist and documentary maker John Pilger appeared in court with Assange yesterday offering surety of around £20,000 for Assange, according to reports. In an interview with Austrlian breakfast radio station 702 Breakfast, Pilger said of the WikiLeaks editor: "To be at the epicentre of something like this, requires a particular fortitude, it also requires people to understand the basic issues and give their support [and] those of us who do understand, I believe, are giving that."

Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens, who represented the Wall Street Journal in the landmark Jameel case, said a renewed bail application would be made. Speaking on the steps of the court yesterday, Stephens said WikiLeaks' work and the embassy cables leaks would continue: "We've seen today Mr Assange remanded into custody that was unfroutanate but WikiLeaks will contine. WL has many thousands of journalists reporting news around the world.

"A renewed bail application will be made. The position as we speak at the moment is the rather exotic position of not having seen any of the evidence that Mr Assange is accused of and in those circus it is very hard to make a bail application on those grounds. We have heard the judge say toady that he wishes to see te evidence himself. I think he was impressed that a number of people were prepared to stand up on behalf of Mr Assange and proffer his innocence.

"This is going to go viral many people will come forward to stand as surities for Mr Assange. Many people believe Mr Assange to be innocent myself included and many people believe that this prosecution is politically motivated."

Stephens said he trusted that the British judicial system was sufficiently robust to withstand any attempts of political interference and that British judges were impartial and far.

"I hope I can say the same about Swedish prosecutors in the near future," he said.

Press freedom campaign group Index on Censorship released a statement following Assange's arrest expressing concern that any trial of Assange could be compromised.

"We are extremely concerned that, in the current febrile atmosphere of denunciation and threats, Mr Assange may not be given a fair trial. We urgently call upon the UK and other authorities to observe due process," says John Kampfner, chief executive of Index of Censorship, in the statement.

In an article written by Assange and published by the Australian yesterday, the WikiLeaks founder argues that the whistleblowing site was part of the strong media required by democratic societies.

"The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption," he writes.

"We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?"

Assange also highlighted that the attacks and challenges that WikiLeaks has faced over publishing the embassy cables have been centred on the organisation and not the media partners, including the Guardian, Der Spiegel and El Pais, who have also published the leaked documents.

Yesterday Mastercard, Visa and PayPal have all withdrawn service from WikiLeaks. Last week Amazon to stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ site and EveryDNS.net stopped providing the organisation with its .org web address.

Related reading:

Comment: Joe Lieberman, the New York Times and the idea of 'bad citizenship'

WikiLeaks essential to a strong media, Assange argues in new op-ed

How and why the world's media chose to publish the WikiLeaks embassy cables

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