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WikiLeaks founder faces new battle

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is behind bars as his legal team prepares for another court battle to secure his release on bail.

A judge decided to free the whistleblower on Tuesday after supporters agreed to post a £200,000 cash deposit.

But in chaotic scenes the decision was overridden two hours later when Swedish authorities appealed.

As a result the 39-year-old Australian returned to Wandsworth prison in south-west London, where he is being held in solitary confinement. He will appear at the High Court within two days where a more senior judge will consider the appeal and whether to overturn the bail decision.

Speaking on the steps of City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens attacked the Swedish authorities. He said: "Finally, after two hours we have heard that the Swedes will not abide with the umpire's decision and they want to put Mr Assange through yet more trouble, more expense and more hurdles. They clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr Assange in jail. This is really turning into a show trial."

Assange is wanted in Sweden over claims he sexually assaulted two women during a visit to Stockholm in August, but his supporters claim the criminal inquiry and extradition request is unfair and politically motivated.

The former computer hacker is behind the release of hundreds of United States diplomatic cables that have caused global uproar.

Assange was denied bail at his first court appearance last week on the grounds he could flee the country.

The decision to appeal was the final twist in a day of extraordinary drama in the mundane setting of the Westminster courthouse. Hundreds of protesters besieged the building, chanting for Assange to be released and attacking the authorities in Sweden and United States.

High-profile supporters including socialite Jemima Khan, novelist Tariq Ali, campaigner Bianca Jagger and film-maker Ken Loach offered sureties. They were joined by veteran journalist John Pilger, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith. Others who had pledged support and were waiting in the wings included author Hanif Kureishi and film-maker Michael Moore.