Lady Gaga visits Julian Assange after backers told to forfeit bail
Gaga said to have dined with WikiLeaks founder as nine supporters are told to pay up £93,500
POP STAR Lady Gaga paid a visit to Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy last night, after nine of his backers were ordered to forfeit £93,500 in bail sureties.
The New York singer spent around five hours at the embassy, located directly behind Harrods in Knightsbridge where she had been promoting a new perfume the day before, reports The Times.
Lady Gaga apparently dined with the WikiLeaks founder – a takeout, because he cannot leave the embassy without being arrested - and then posed with him for a photograph (above), which she posted on her fan site Littlemonsters.com.
It is not known how the pop star knows the 41-year-old Australian. But the Times points out that there is a connection between the pair. Bradley Manning, the US army intelligence analyst alleged to have leaked cables to WikiLeaks, is said to have stolen the data by taking a Lady Gaga CD into his office, wiping the music and downloading files while pretending to lip-synch to her songs.
Gaga's visit came on the same day that nine of Assange's backers were told to pay the sureties they put up for the WikiLeaks founder before he skipped bail on 19 June and took refuge at the embassy. The nine individuals, including Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston and journalist Phillip Knightley, were told they must each pay between £3,500 and £15,000.
Chief magistrate Howard Riddle reduced the total amount from £140,000 to £93,500, saying that he accepted the sums could have an impact on the financial wellbeing of some of them, reports The Independent. Riddle said that the backers had "acted on their beliefs and principles throughout" and added: "In what is sometimes considered to be a selfish age, that is admirable."
Assange is still wanted by Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault. He fears that if he is extradited, the Swedes will in turn extradite him on to the US to face interrogation – and a possible jail term - over the secret military files and diplomatic cables he published on WikiLeaks.