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Manor site of Assange's house arrest

Manor site of Assange's house arrest
Ellingham Hall, the 650-acre estate near London that normally provides a backdrop for weddings, now is the prison for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. UPI/Hugo Philpott | License Photo

LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Ellingham Hall, the 650-acre English estate that normally provides a backdrop for weddings, now is the prison for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Sitting a mile back from the nearest road and covered by a blanket of snow from a recent storm, Ellingham Hall is home base for what Assange calls "my high-tech house arrest" after he was released on $370,000 bail to fight accusations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, The New York Times reported Thursday.

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Much of his bail was provided by wealthy celebrities and friends, including Vaughan Smith, Ellingham Hall's owner, records indicated. Terms of his bail require that he wear an electronic monitoring device and report daily to local police.

The three-story Georgian-style mansion house overlooking a man-made lake is used, among other things, as a setting for weddings and hunting parties. However, telephone calls have gone unanswered and the hall's Web site has been taken off-line, the Times reported.

Assange has denied the charges of sexual assault, maintaining he is the victim of a smear campaign led by the United States, which is considering criminal prosecution for the leak of nearly 750,000 classified documents, including the recent release of more than 250,000 U.S. State Department cables.

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Swedish prosecutors say their arrest warrant is separate and they issued the warrant so they could question Assange about allegations made by two women who claim the 39-year-old Australian sexually assaulted them last summer.

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