A British court will decide on Thursday whether to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, scourge of the U.S. establishment for his leaks of diplomatic cables, on 200,000 pound ($317,000) bail over accusations of sex crimes in Sweden.

The website of the Swedish prosecutors' office, which was behind Assange's arrest in London, again came under cyber attack during the night and was out of action for around 12 hours, spokeswoman Karin Rosander said.

The site was targeted last week along with organizations such as Visa and MasterCard that Internet activists believe have obstructed WikiLeaks.

Assange was granted bail Tuesday by a British court but prosecutors appealed and he remains in a London jail.

The prosecution appeal against the Magistrates Court decision to grant Julian Assange bail has been filed. It will be heard tomorrow, officials said in a brief statement.

The case will be heard at 11:30 A.M. (6:30 a.m. EDT) in England's High Court in central London, a court official said.

A lawyer for Assange, a 39-year-old Australian computer expert, said earlier Wednesday his backers had raised around half of the cash he needs to secure bail.

Lawyer Mark Stephens said ordinary members of the public wanted to contribute to the fund to release him. We have to come up with 200,000 pounds in pound notes and that is difficult to come by, lawyer Mark Stephens told BBC News.

We've got about half of that right now but of course people will understand that even wealthy people don't keep that kind of money knocking around, he added.

Prominent public figures including U.S. film-maker Michael Moore, Australian journalist John Pilger and British author Hanif Kureishi have pledged their support for Assange.

I'm getting offers from the general public who are coming in and saying we really would like to contribute to this (bail), Julian Assange shouldn't be in jail, Stephens said.


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.

Assange is fighting attempts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers, which he denies.

Stephens has accused the Swedish authorities of trying to conduct a show trial and of persecuting his client.

Why is it that Swedish authorities are so dead set that Julian Assange spends Christmas in jail. Do they have the genes of Scrooge?, Stephens said, referring to a cold-hearted character from Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol.

The conditions of Assange's bail say he must stay at a country house in eastern England owned by a supporter, report to police daily and wear an electronic tag.

However, Swedish authorities fear he could flee.

Despite Assange's legal problems, WikiLeaks continues to drip feed some of the 250,000 cables it has obtained, working with newspapers around the globe to amplify their impact.

WikiLeaks has come under fire for publishing details of overseas sites the United States regards as vital to its security. It also disclosed that Saudi King Abdullah repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran's nuclear program.

The U.S. Air Force has blocked employees from visiting media websites carrying leaked WikiLeaks documents, including the New York Times and the Guardian.

(Additional reporting by Avril Ormsby and Adrian Croft in London, Mia Shanley in Stockholm)