An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought … it figures
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
‘Well isn’t this nice…’
And isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tried to hide his bail address from the public in an astonishing move for the man responsible for leaking thousands of diplomatic secrets.
Assange’s lawyers argued that the location – a 10-bedroom stately home – should not be disclosed on grounds of privacy during yesterday’s hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
But the move was dismissed by District Judge Howard Riddle, who ruled not to reveal the address would conflict with Assange’s commitment to open justice.
The judge insisted the address – Captain Vaughan Smith’s Ellingham Hall on the Norfolk/Suffolk border – was read out in open court as usual.
It came before Assange, 39, was granted £240,000 bail, including £200,000 in cash and two sureties of £20,000 – but then had his release blocked when the Swedish authorities lodged a challenge.
The whistleblower had to be returned to Wandsworth prison in south west London, where he was being held in solitary confinement.
The Australian will appear at the High Court tomorrow, where a senior judge will consider the appeal and decide if he can be freed.
Despite a string of millionaire and celebrity backers, who include a list of luvvies, lefties and ‘internationally renowned’ backers, he has yet to raise the £240,000 bail money…
The decision to appeal was the final twist in a day of extraordinary drama in the mundane setting of the Westminster courthouse.
An ever-growing cast of left-wing luvvie supporters and journalists queued for hours to win tickets to court number one where Assange was appearing.
Meanwhile hundreds of protesters besieged the building, chanting for Assange to be released and attacking the authorities in Sweden and United States.
High-profile supporters including socialite Jemima Khan, novelist Tariq Ali, campaigner Bianca Jagger and film-maker Ken Loach all offered sureties.
Film director Ken Loach, socialite Jemima Khan and journalist John Pilger were also in the public gallery for the second time in days.
Gay activist Peter Tatchell was also at court. He said: ‘I’m just here to show solidarity with someone who exposed people who committed war crimes.’
American documentary film maker Michael Moore was there in spirit, offering to throw $20,000 into the pot to secure his release…
ASSANGE’S BAIL BOLTHOLE
If he does secure bail at the next court hearing, Julian Assange will swap his Wandsworth jail cell for Ellingham Hall, an elegant Georgian mansion set in 600 acres of rolling parkland.
The WikiLeaks boss will be a house guest at the 10-bedroom estate owned by Captain Vaughan Smith (below) who served in the Army before setting up the Frontline Club in London in 2003.
Cpt Smith spoke up for his friend from the witness box at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday and has put up £20,000 in bail money to help Assange reach the £240,000 required.
A former Grenadier Guards Captain, he is a free speech supporter and investigative journalism champion, as well as a restaurateur, club owner and sustainable farmer.
Assange’s barrister jauntily described it as being ‘placed under mansion arrest’. The house, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, has its own housekeeper and a well-stocked wine cellar.
Cpt Smith has previously allowed the whistleblower to stay at his club in Paddington, which includes several flats. He has apparently said Assange will have to pay for his own food and accommodation.
The estate is very isolated, with Diss the nearest train station and Norwich – the nearest city – half an hour’s drive away. It is impossible to reach the mansion without trespassing on Cpt Smith’s land.
The former solder said yesterday: ‘It’s a Georgian house from the 18th Century. It’s been in my family for the past 225 years but before that it belonged to the Johnsons whom the Smiths married into. Some of the buildings are even older.’
Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971) is an Australian journalist, publisher, and Internet activist. He is the spokesperson and editor in chief for WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website and repository for news leaks. Before working with the website, he was a computer programmer and hacker. He has lived in several countries, and has made occasional public appearances to speak about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.
Assange founded the WikiLeaks website in 2006 and serves on its advisory board. He has been involved in publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, for which he won the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award. He has also published material about toxic waste dumping in Africa, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. In 2010, he published classified details about United States involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then, on 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its five media partners began publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables. The White House calls Assange’s actions reckless and dangerous.
For his work with WikiLeaks, Assange received the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award and the 2010 Sam Adams Award. Utne Reader named him as one of the “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”. In 2010, New Statesman ranked Assange number 23 among the “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures”.
On 30 November 2010, at the request of the International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg, Sweden, Interpol placed Assange on its red notice list of wanted persons;he was wanted for questioning about alleged sexual offenses, and voluntarily surrendered to the London Metropolitan Police Service on 7 December 2010. Assange denies the accusations made against him.
Daniel Yates, a former British military intelligence officer, wrote “Assange has seriously endangered the lives of Afghan civilians … The logs contain detailed personal information regarding Afghan civilians who have approached NATO soldiers with information. It is inevitable that the Taliban will now seek violent retribution on those who have co-operated with NATO. Their families and tribes will also be in danger.”
Responding to a critical letter from a White House spokesman, Assange said in August 2010 that 15,000 documents are still being reviewed “line by line”, and that the names of “innocent parties who are under reasonable threat” would be removed. Assange replied to the request through Eric Schmitt, a New York Times editor. This reply was Assange’s offer to the White House to vet any harmful documents; Schmitt responded that “I certainly didn’t consider this a serious and realistic offer to the White House to vet any of the documents before they were to be posted, and I think it’s ridiculous that Assange is portraying it that way now.”
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, said, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.” Assange denies this has happened, and responded by saying, “…it’s really quite fantastic that [Robert] Gates and Mullen…who have ordered assassinations every day, are trying to bring people on board to look at a speculative understanding of whether we might have blood on our hands. These two men arguably are wading in the blood from those wars.”
A number of commentators, including current and former US government officials, have accused Assange of terrorism. U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has called Assange “a high-tech terrorist”, and this view was mirrored by former US House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been quoted as saying, “Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism, and Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant”. Within the media, an editorial in the Washington Times by Jeffrey T. Kuhner said Assange should be treated “the same way as other high-value terrorist targets”; Fox News’ National Security Analyst and host “K.T.” McFarland has called Assange a terrorist, Wikileaks “a terrorist organization” and has called for Bradley Manning‘s execution if he is found guilty of making the leaks; and former Nixon aide and talk radio host G. Gordon Liddy has reportedly suggested that Assange’s name be added to the “kill list” of terrorists who can be assassinated without a trial.
Tom Flanagan, former campaign manager for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, commented in November 2010 that he thought Julian Assange should be assassinated. A complaint has been filed against Flanagan, which states that Flanagan “counselled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada,” in his remarks on the CBC programme Power & Politics.. Flanagan has since apologised for the remarks made during the programme and claimed his intentions were never “to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange”.
In a hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 7 December 2010, Assange identified a post office box as his address. When told by the judge that this information was not acceptable, Assange submitted “Parkville, Victoria, Australia” on a sheet of paper. His lack of permanent address and nomadic lifestyle were cited by the judge as factors in denying bail.
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