The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Julian Assange gets the cream of UK lawyers for his legal defence. But it is a strange twist of fate that on the same day as he is slung into the company of Britain's hardened criminals, he wins the support of the banking heiress, Jemima Khan.


The top human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, known for his work on freedom of speech matters, is to defend Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange when he next comes to court. Robertson will complement Assange's legal team which already consists of the crème de la crème of British lawyers. His solicitor, Mark Stephens, is well known for his work in difficult and controversial human rights cases.


Assange's appearance in a London court yesterday sparked an astonishing media s scrum usually reserved for royalty and pop stars, and certainly not ever previously known for any Internet entrepreneur. But what was especially striking is that a number of

prominent British celebrities and media types have spoken up in support of him. Among them is the banking heiress and one-time friend of Princess Diana, Jemima Khan.


Ms Khan offered to put up £20,000 bail for Julian Assange, saying that whilst she has never met him she believes that there are important freedom of speech issues at stake. 


Jemima Khan  says on Twitter that "I offered my support, as I believe that this is about the universal right of freedom of information and our right to be told the truth. "


Jemima Khan is the daughter of the millionaire banker, Sir James Goldsmith, She is the former wife of Pakistani cricketer -turned -politician Imran Khan, and former girlfriend of the actor Hugh Grant ( 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'). She was a friend of Princess Diana, and they famously once travelled to Pakistan together.


The veteran campaigning journalist John Pilger, who has himself exposed corruption and political deceit, and the film-maker Ken Loach, have also made similar pledges. Their offers were turned down, however. Assange was imprisoned, apparently for his own safety.


Julian Assange has been sent to Wandsworth prison. Wandsworth is Britain's largest jail, and is known for harbouring many hardened criminals.


I suspect that Assange's connections with the Guardian newspaper, and the fact that it is publishing the Wikileaks material, had something to do with his attracting such high profile lawyers and supporters.


However, the real take-way from yesterday's events is that the Wikileaks exposures are becoming a high-profile public interest story. Freedom of speech on the Internet is front page news, in a way that brings it to the attention not only of politicians but of ordinary people, everywhere. And that is why what happens to Julian Assange will be important - for the Internet and for citizens.


The sources for this story were :

Daily Mail   Hauled off to a British prison with a wry smile, the WikiLeaks chief now facing extradition on rape charges

AFP Top human rights lawyer to defend Assange 


Daily Telegraph  Julian Assange: Wikileaks chief held in prison   on rape charge

 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Wikileaks:  Banking heiress joins top lawyers in Assange defence 8 December 2010







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