Julian Assange's supporters have pleaded in court to keep £140,000 in bail money that is in jeopardy because of the WikiLeaks founder's decision to seek political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Vaughan Smith, the former British army captain who hosted Assange at his Norfolk home while he was on bail throughout 2011, told Westminster magistrates court that Assange's nine sureties were powerless over the man whose compliance with the legal process they had guaranteed back in 2010. He said Assange's decision to evade a European arrest warrant had become an "unprecedented" matter of diplomatic and inter-governmental concern, which they could not reasonably influence.
Smith spoke on behalf of sureties who include Philip Knightly, a veteran Australian investigative journalist who exposed the British traitor Kim Philby as a Russian spy, and Sir John Sulston, a Nobel prize-winning biologist. Smith told the court that a group of them visited Assange on Monday and concluded "the sureties do not have the power to meaningfully intervene in this matter. This has become a matter between the Ecuadorean, British, Swedish, US and Australian governments."