A British judge granted bail of 200,000 pounds ($317,400) on Tuesday for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes and the target of U.S. fury over the release of secret diplomatic cables.

Prosecutors, representing Swedish authorities, quickly said they would appeal against the bail decision and Judge Howard Riddle said Assange must remain in custody until a new hearing is held within 48 hours.

Riddle had earlier ruled that, pending a hearing on January 11, Assange could be freed under strict conditions including electronic tagging and a curfew.

He would have had to report to police daily and post a 200,000 pound bond, to be put up by wealthy backers.

The 39-year-old Australian, who has spent a week in London's Wandsworth prison, is fighting attempts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers, accusations he denies.

Mark Stephens, a lawyer for Assange, said Swedish authorities would clearly not spare any expense to keep Assange in jail.

This is really turning into a show trial and we will be in court again within the next 48 hours, he told reporters.

He called Assange an innocent man sitting in Dickensian conditions, Victorian conditions in Wandsworth jail.

Assange and his lawyers have voiced fears that U.S. prosecutors may be preparing to indict him for espionage over WikiLeaks' publication of the documents.

Riddle denied Assange bail a week ago on grounds he might abscond but said he had changed his mind because Assange had provided a British address and because discrepancies over his passport and right to stay in Britain had now been resolved.

Prosecution lawyer Gemma Lindfield, acting for the Swedish authorities, said nothing had changed.

He remains a significant flight risk and no conditions that court can impose could prevent his flight, she told the court.


Assange, wearing a navy suit and open-necked white shirt, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

He sat impassively behind tall panels of thickened glass during the hearing, which lasted a little over an hour.

His supporters in the court included Bianca Jagger, the former wife of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger.

One of the main conditions of his bail is that he lives at Ellingham Hall, a country mansion in Suffolk, eastern England that is the home of a former army officer and Assange supporter, Vaughan Smith.

Assange has long been a thorn in the side of Washington. U.S. anger reached new heights after WikiLeaks began publishing part of trove of 250,000 secret diplomatic papers.

Two of Assange's supporters took the witness stand to offer 20,000 pounds each to act as a surety.

Restaurant designer and catering company boss Sarah Saunders told the court: I believe he would not let me down.

Smith called him as a very honourable person, hugely courageous, self-deprecatory and warm.

Assange, who handed himself in to British police last week after Sweden issued a European arrest warrant, remained defiant.

In a statement released by his mother on Tuesday, he denounced the firms that suspended payments to his website as instruments of U.S. foreign policy and calling for help in protecting his work from their illegal and immoral attacks.

My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them, Assange said, according to a written statement of his comments supplied to Australia's Network Seven by his mother Christine.

We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy, he said. I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks.

Internet activists launched Operation Payback last week to avenge WikiLeaks against those perceived to have obstructed its operations, temporarily bringing down the websites of credit card firms Visa and MasterCard, as well as that of the Swedish government.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday showed that a majority of Americans -- 59 percent -- believed the United States should try to arrest Assange and charge him with a crime related to the disclosure of the cables.

Sixty-eight percent of the 1,001 U.S. adults polled said WikiLeaks' actions harmed the public interest, while 20 percent said the disclosures served the public interest.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, Will Dunham in Washington and Michael Perry in Sydney; editing by Mark Heinrich)