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Assange Due In London Court Over Sex-Crimes Probe


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted bail today, by a British court. He's been locked up in one of the biggest prisons in Europe and fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning in a sex crimes case. He and his lawyers say the accusations are political. But in Sweden, the view of this entire case is a little different. NPR's Philip Reeves has more.

PHILIP REEVES: His lawyer, Mark Stephens, says Assange is getting by, though it's not easy.

MARK STEPHENS: Julian is a sort of a bit lost without his computer, although the prison authorities said that they will give him an Internet-disabled computer in due course. And he's finding it very boring, because he hates British daytime television.

REEVES: Stephens says Assange still hasn't actually been formally charged with anything. He says the Swedish authorities simply want him for questioning about evidence of alleged sex crimes that Stephens says Assange knows little about.

STEPHENS: Every prosecutor around the world will tell you that it is an obligation, and particularly in Sweden, that you tell a person who's going to be questioned what the nature of the allegations are and what the evidence is against them. And as we sit here now, he hasn't got that.


REEVES: This Nordic nation's nine million or so citizens tend to have faith in their judicial system and their politicians, far more so than other nations, says Klare Hradivlova-Celin of Sweden's National Council of Crime Prevention.

KLARE HRADIVLOVA: I think the public has very, very high confidence in the judicial system in Sweden - in the state in general, actually. And there's also a strong tradition of that.


REEVES: Anna Lunden, one of a crowd milling through Stockholm's old city last night, thinks Assange should come to Sweden to face his accusers.

ANNA LUNDEN: Why should he be not guilty because he's famous?


LUNDEN: I don't know.

REEVES: You're just saying keep an open mind, are you?

LUNDEN: Exactly. Yes, definitely. I mean, bigger men than he have been using women. I don't know.

REEVES: James Savage is the managing editor of The Local, an English-language news outlet based in Stockholm.

JAMES SAVAGE: We know a lot about one of them, a political activist. She knew Julian Assange. She got to know him through the WikiLeaks thing. So she met him. The other woman, he is believed to have met at a party, and she lives some distance away from Stockholm. She's a bit younger. She's, I believe, in her 20's.

REEVES: Josephin Brink, a member of Sweden's parliament, says she likes what WikiLeaks is doing, yet she's disappointed that some well-known activists - such as the journalist John Pilger and film director Ken Loach who've rallied to Assange's side - appear to have decided that he's innocent.

JOSEPHIN BRINK: I find it rather depressing that these rather iconic left persons stand up and say, as if they knew, that he cannot be guilty of this, this has to be a honey trap, and so on. And obviously, they have no idea whether it's a honey trap or not.

REEVES: In Sweden, the concept of an American conspiracy generally isn't getting much traction, says James Savage of The Local.

SAVAGE: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Stockholm.


GONYEA: You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves
Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.