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WikiLeaks: CCTV used to spy on Assange visitors

WikiLeaks has accused British authorities of using CCTV cameras to spy on every visitor to the Norfolk house at which its founder, Julian Assange, is being held under house arrest.

In a video (opens in new tab) released to coincide with the Australian's first six months under the house-bound regime, his host Vaughan Smith, the owner of Ellingham Hall, reports that three surveillance cameras have appeared outside the entrances to his home since Assange took up residence.

"We believe that they are monitoring everything that goes in and out of the property," says Smith in the video. "I believe these take number plates and report number plates. I think the country is full of them, but I don't know why I need quite so many around my house."

Pointing to one of the devices outside Smith's home near the town of Bungay, WikiLeaks activist Sarah Harrison concurs, saying: "We believe that they are monitoring everything that goes in and out of the house."

The video paints a portrait of oppressive surveillance on Assange, who has so far not been charged with any offence, either in the UK or in Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual offences made by two women. Assange is currently appealing a decision to extradite him to the country.

"I'm British, and I've always been proud of our justice system, but this is just wrong," says Harrison.

Another WikiLeaker, Joseph Farrell, complains that Assange's bail conditions are "almost identical" to those of Shrien Dewani, the British man awaiting extradition to South Africa, where he is accused of arranging the murder of his wife while the couple were on honeymoon.

Assange has submitted to electronic tagging, tracked by three boxes installed in Smith's home, and has been forced to report to the local police daily for the last six months. To satisfy the conditions of his bail, must return home each night before 10pm.

Farrell claims the work of the whistle-blowing organisation has been severely hampered by the restrictions placed on Assange, who he says is being "treated like a caged animal".

Elsewhere in the video, technicians from electronic tagging company Serco are shown refusing to be filmed as they attend the house to fix the tracking device attached to Assange's ankle.

Farrell reports that WikiLeaks' lawyers received a letter from Serco some days later, stating that its employees were unable to conduct their business while being filmed.

"They are in the business of surveillance," notes Farrell, "but they don't want to be surveilled* themselves."

*No, we don't think that's a word, either. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.