Assange: WikiLeaks to go on as court battle looms

Julian Assange today vowed to continue WikiLeaks' campaign of outing secret US diplomatic cables, as he prepares for a hearing next month on his extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual offences.

Speaking outside Belmarsh Magistrates' Court, where he appeared this morning for a procedural hearing, Assange said he was "happy about today's outcome", and revealed that provisional arguments made by his legal team over Christmas would be made public later.

Confirming that WikiLeaks would continue to publish material from the so-called 'Cablegate' leaks, Assange told reporters: "Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing for matters relating to 'Cablegate' and other materials. This will shortly be occurring through our newspaper partners around the world, big and small newspapers and some human rights organisations."

During a ten-minute court session, Assange's barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC, said that his client's legal team was collecting evidence from further witnesses in Sweden.

District judge Nicholas Evans said, however, that it was unlikely that authorities there would drop their request for extradition.

Fears have been expressed that Assange may face a further demand for extradition on to the United States, where prosecutors are believed to be preparing a case against him on charges of espionage.

US authorities prompted outrage last week when courts threw out a gagging order preventing micro-blogging site Twitter from informing users that investigators had asked to access their accounts.

Among the accounts affected were those of Icelandic MP and former WikiLeaks volunteer, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and US Army Pvt Bradley Manning, the man accused of supplying classified material to the site.

Manning has been held in solitary confinement for more than seven months by the US military, amid allegations that his conditions amount to torture.