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Assange fears US spy charge

world Updated: Dec 18, 2010 03:02 IST
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The founder of WikiLeaks said that he fears that the United States is getting ready to indict him, but insisted that the secret-spilling site would continue its work despite what he has called a dirty tricks campaign.

Assange spoke from snowbound Ellingham Hall, a supporter's 10-bedroom country mansion where he is confined on bail as he fights Sweden's attempt to extradite him on allegations of rape and molestation. Assange insisted to television interviewers that he was being subjected to a smear campaign and "what appears to be a secret grand jury investigation against me or our organization." He did not elaborate, but said he had retained an unnamed US law firm to represent him.

Assange has repeatedly voiced concerns that American authorities were getting ready to press charges over WikiLeaks' continuing release of some 250,000 secret State Department cables, which have angered and embarrassed US officials worldwide.

US officials are investigating WikiLeaks and considering charges, a case that if pursued could end up pitting the government's efforts to protect sensitive information against press and speech freedoms guaranteed by First Amendment free speech right.

The government suspects WikiLeaks received the documents from an Army private, Bradley Manning, who is in the brig on charges of leaking other classified documents to the organization.

A High Court judge in Britain freed Assange on bail on Thursday on condition he reside at the 600-acre estate in eastern England, wear an electronic tag and report to police daily. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning about sex allegations leveled against him by two women he spent time with while visiting the country in August.

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