Julian Assange Stiffs His Supporters

Julian Assange’s escape into the Ecuadorian embassy has had financial ramifications for some of his supporters, they will have to cough up the money they put up a sureties:

“Backers who stood as sureties for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London have been ordered to pay thousands of pounds.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said the nine had to pay £93,500 by November 6.

Vaughan Smith, a friend who put Assange up at his country mansion for more than a year, addressed Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week on behalf of the nine, who put up £140,000 between them.
He said all those who offered sureties, of varying amounts, are “convinced that they have done and are doing the right thing”.

In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate said he accepted that the nine had all acted in good faith, saying: “I accept that they trusted Mr Assange to surrender himself as required. I accept that they followed the proceedings and made necessary arrangements to remain in contact with him.

“However, they failed in their basic duty, to ensure his surrender. They must have understood the risk and the concerns of the courts.

“Both this court and the High Court assessed that there were substantial grounds to believe the defendant would abscond, and that the risk could only be met by stringent conditions including the sureties,” he said.

Sky News details the amount involved:

“Vaughan Smith has been told to pay £12,000, while another three – Caroline Evans, Phillip Knightley and John Sulston – must each pay £15,000.

Five others – Tricia David, Joseph Farrell, Sarah Harrison, Sarah Saunders and Tracy Worcester – were ordered to pay amounts of between £3,500 and £12,000.”

It makes you wonder why his supporters were arguing that they should be immune from penalty when Assange broke his bail conditions. L’exception Assange?

Still, I doubt Assange’s wealthy supporters will suffer from penury. I imagine that someone such as Vaughan Smith could easily afford £12,000, as long as he laid off the fine wines!

They shouldn’t grumble, their hero has done what he thought best for him.

His rich supporters are paying for their principles, which surely is the best way to prove they have any? But I can’t see him getting any more money from them in future. Once bitten?

Update 1: The Torygraph has more:

“The judge took into account the fact that losing all of their money would have a “significant” impact on some of the sureties, including Prof Tricia David, a retired academic; Sarah Saunders, a friend whose house in East Sussex was a bail address for Mr Assange; and Vaughan Smith, a journalist who owns the Norfolk manor house where he originally stayed after his arrest in 2010.

He added that he “cannot avoid taking some account of their integrity”, and ruled that he would not forfeit “more than is necessary” to protect the system.

The judge ruled that all nine must pay the money demanded in full by November 6th or appear in front of him to say why they should “not be committed to custody for non-payment”.

Under section 120 (3) of the 1980 Magistrates Court Act, he ruled that Prof David must pay £10,000; Lady Evans, the wife of a former Labour minister, £15,000; Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison, WikiLeaks aides, £3,500 each; Phillip Knightley, a journalist, £15,000; Ms Saunders, £12,000; Mr Smith, £12,000; Sir John Sulston, a biologist, £15,000; and Tracy Worcester, the Marchioness of Worcester, £7,500.

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Ofcom And Julian Assange

Below is the summary from page 80 of Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 213, 10 September 2012 detailing Julian Assange’s complaint.

Not Upheld

Complaint by Mr Julian Assange
True Stories: WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies, More 4, 29 November 2011

Summary: Ofcom’s decision is that this complaint made by Mr Julian Assange of unjust or unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in the broadcast of the programme should not be upheld.

The programme charted the history of WikiLeaks1 and featured contributions from Mr Assange, a number of employees from The Guardian and other newspapers. Other contributors, such as a former employee of WikiLeaks and others who came into contact with Mr Assange or who were affected by the impact of the material that was published by WikiLeaks, also featured and gave their opinions on WikiLeaks, Mr Assange and related matters.

Mr Assange complained to Ofcom that he was treated unjustly or unfairly in the
programme as broadcast and that his privacy was unwarrantably infringed in the
programme.

Ofcom found as follows:

  • Mr Assange did provide his informed consent to appear in the programme;
  • Material facts were presented in a way that was not unfair to Mr Assange and omitting certain facts or points raised by Mr Assange did not create unfairness in the programme as broadcast;
  • Mr Assange was provided with a timely and appropriate opportunity to respond to the points in the programme; and
  • Mr Assange did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the footage of him dancing in a nightclub in Iceland, which was included in the programme. “

The PDF and full details can be found here.

Update 1:The programme which was first broadcast on 29 November 2011 is accessible on Channel 4’s site.

Update 2: A YouTube copy is available too.