LONDON (AP) — A British judge on Monday ordered supporters of Julian Assange to pay thousands of pounds they promised for his bail because the WikiLeaks founder violated the conditions for his release.
The 41-year-old Assange violated a condition to report to a police station daily when he sought refuge at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sex crimes allegations.
The WikiLeaks founder and his supporters claim that the Swedish sex case is part of a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the United States over his work with WikiLeaks, which has published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and other documents. Both Sweden and the U.S. reject that claim.
Former BBC journalist Vaughan Smith, who hosted Assange at his country house for more than a year as the WikiLeaks founder fought extradition, was among the nine supporters who had argued that they should not be punished for trying to "serve the public interest" in the case.
But Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle on Monday ordered them to pay 93,500 pounds ($150,000) by Nov. 6, saying that while he accepted the supporters had acted in good faith, they had failed in their "basic duty" to ensure Assange surrendered.
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