I'm innocent says bailed WikiLeaks head

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerged from the High Court yesterday vowing to "continue his work and protest his innocence" after being released on bail.

The 39-year-old whistleblower was greeted by cheers from his supporters and the microphones and cameras of the world's Press following his nine-days on remand.

He said it was "great to smell the fresh air of London" before going on to thank "all the people around the world who had faith in me".

Assange walked out of the High Court shortly before 6pm, just hours after a judge ruled that he should be released.

The Australian is wanted in Sweden for alleged sex offences which he denies and is facing extradition proceedings in the new year.

His lawyers have accused the Swedish authorities of waging a "vendetta" against him.

In a further twist, Assange suggested that he may face separate prosecution in the US.

He told the BBC that he had heard "a rumour today from my lawyers in the United States, we have not confirmed yet, that there has been an indictment made against me in the US".

The US Department of Justice would only confirm that there is "an ongoing investigation into the WikiLeaks matter".

Earlier this week at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court he was granted bail pending the bid to extradite him to Sweden.

But Assange remained in prison while the authorities challenged his release at the High Court in London, arguing that there was "a real risk" he would abscond.

Mr Justice Ouseley rejected submissions that the risk he posed made it impossible to set him free. The judge said his co-operation with police suggested he was not "a person who is seeking to evade justice".

The judge accepted offers by Assange's supporters to stump up 200,000 as a cash deposit and a number of other sureties.

As he left court, Assange gave thanks to his legal team who "put up a brave and ultimately successful fight".

He also paid tribute to "the British justice system itself, where, if justice isn't always an outcome, at least it is not dead yet."

Bail conditions require Assange to remain in the country. He has received death threats and has spent the past week in solitary confinement. He will stay in a country retreat in East Anglia.