Great to smell fresh air says freed Assange

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The Independent Online

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed to "continue his work and protest his innocence" after being released on bail tonight.

The 39-year-old whistleblower emerged from the High Court hours after a judge ruled that he should be released and his lawyers accused the Swedish authorities of waging a "vendetta" against him.

On the steps of the court, he said it was "great to smell the fresh air of London".

Assange added that his legal team would be revealing evidence relating to allegations of sexual assault made against him "as we get it, which we have not yet".

Assange is wanted in Sweden for alleged sex offences which he denies and is facing extradition proceedings in the new year.

Earlier this week at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court he was granted bail pending the bid to extradite him.

But the Australian remained in prison while the authorities challenged his release at the High Court in London, arguing that there was "a real risk" he would abscond.

Today Mr Justice Ouseley rejected submissions that the risk he posed made it impossible to set him free.

The judge said his co-operation with police suggested he was not "a person who is seeking to evade justice".

The judge accepted offers by Assange's supporters to stump up £200,000 as a cash deposit and a number of other sureties.

The WikiLeaks founder emerged from the High Court shortly before 6pm.

He was greeted by cheers from supporters and the camera flashes of photographers.

Outside court, Assange thanked "all the people around the world who had faith in me".

He also gave thanks to his legal team who "put up a brave and ultimately successful fight".

This is the full statement of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, delivered on the steps of the High Court in London tonight.

"It's great to smell the fresh air of London again.

"First, some thank yous. To all the people around the world who have had faith in me, who have supported my team while I have been away.

"To my lawyers, who have put up a brave and ultimately successful fight, to our sureties and people who have provided money in the face of great difficulty and aversion.

"And to members of the press who are not all taken in and considered to look deeper in their work.

"And I guess finally, to the British justice system itself, where if justice is not always the outcome at least it is not dead yet.

"During my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison I had time to reflect on the conditions of those people around the world also in solitary confinement, also on remand, in conditions that are more difficult than those faced by me.

"Those people also need your attention and support.

"And with that I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter and to reveal, as we get it, which we have not yet, the evidence from these allegations."

"Thank you."