Salisbury JournalAssange backers told to pay £93,500 (From Salisbury Journal)

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Assange backers told to pay £93,500

Salisbury Journal: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador

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.

Mr Assange has been in Ecuador's London embassy since June as part of his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He fears being sent to the United States if he travels to Sweden, to face interrogation over the whistle-blowing website.

He has been granted political asylum by Ecuador but faces arrest if he leaves the embassy after breaking bail conditions.

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.

Exercising power under section 120 (3) of the 1980 Magistrates Court Act, the Chief Magistrate said he adjudged each of the sureties had to pay part of the sum originally pledged, as follows: Tricia David £10,000, Caroline Evans £15,000, Joseph Farrell £3,500, Sarah Harrison £3,500, Phillip Knightley £15,000, Sarah Saunders £12,000, Vaughan Smith £12,000, John Sulston £15,000 and Tracy Worcester £7,500.

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