Assange ‘sees the black side of it’, says Pilger
Judge commends Pilger, Ken Loach and Jemima Khan for offering bail - but turns the offer down
The Australian journalist and documentary-maker John Pilger claimed the treatment of his compatriot Julian Assange was "outrageous" when the WikiLeaks editor was refused bail in London yesterday after being served with a Swedish extradition warrant.
"Having his freedom taken away is outrageous,” Pilger, who is based in London, told reporters outside the court. “Sweden should be ashamed. This is not justice – this is outrageous."
Pilger managed to speak with Assange briefly after the court hearing. Interviewed by an Australian radio journalist, he said he was sure Assange was “full of trepidation” but added: “He has quite a dry wit, he saw the black side of it."
Pilger was one of a group of well-wishers who each offered to put up £20,000 surety for Assange. The filmmaker Ken Loach and socialite Jemima Khan did the same thing, even though they did not know the WikiLeaks founder.
Despite turning down Assange’s bail request, Judge Howard Riddle commended them for helping "out of concern for human rights" without knowing the defendant personally.
Khan, formerly married to the Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, said she was supporting Assange because she believes in “the human right to freedom of information and our right to be told the truth”.
Loach, director of Kes and Looking for Eric, said: "I think the work he [Assange] has done has been a public service. I think we are entitled to know the dealings of those that govern us."
Meanwhile, it is reported that another high-profile London-based Australian, the Sydney-born human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, has agreed to act for Assange in future extradition hearings. ·
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