Assange: US extradition is 'increasingly likely'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he fears his extradition to the United States is “increasingly likely”.

Speaking today from the country house of friend and video journalist Vaughan Smith, where he is spending what he calls his “hi-tech house arrest” after being released on bail by the High Court in London on Thursday, Assange said the US was pursuing a “very aggressive investigation” against him.

US Government sources have been angered by the release, beginning last month, of more than 250,000 secret diplomatic communications between American embassies and the US State Department.

Senior State Department spokesman Philip Crowley last week accused Assange of having broken US law, and a number of senior public figures have gone as far as calling for his execution and even assassination.

The WikiLeaks founder currently faces extradition from the UK to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sexual offences against two women.

Assange denies all allegations, and has suggested they are part of a wider conspiracy to discredit him and silence WikiLeaks. His solicitor, Mark Stephens, claims Swedish authorities have declared themselves willing to defer any prosecution in favour of extradition onwards to the United States.

Assange himself today declared that it was “80 per cent likely” that US authorities would seek extradition.

"The risk we have always been concerned about is onward extradition to the United States and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely," Assange told reporters today.

Asked if he suspected a US-led conspiracy, he said: "I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation. A lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases."

US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he has authorised "significant" actions relating to a criminal investigation.

Prosecutors are said to be considering charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, after reports that Assange was personally involved in obtaining military and other secrets alleged to have been leaked by US Army Private Bradley Manning.

Manning is alleged to have claimed in an instant messenger conversation that he had made direct contact with the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange has denied any knowledge of Bradley Manning, but has said that if the reports about him were true, he would be an “unparalleled hero”.

The WikiLeaks founder today confirmed that the organisation had pledged $50,000 towards Pvt Manning’s defence fund.