Julian Assange, founder of the secretive site WikiLeaks, says his house arrest is hampering the work of the state secret sharing site.
Assange, 39, and his supporters also claim in a new video, titled "House Arrest," that three cameras have been erected to watch who enters and leaves his temporary home — an 18th-century manor owned by entrepreneurial former journalist Vaughan Smith in Norfolk, England.
The video, published today on Telegraph.co.uk, marks his six months on bail in the U.K. after filing an appeal against a court ruling that he be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation.
The Australian computer expert, who infuriated the U.S. government by publishing thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, is free under strict bail conditions.
Assange must adhere to an overnight curfew, wear an electronic tag and report to police daily. His supporters, in turn, accuse Britain of treating him "like a caged animal" and subjecting him to "excessive and dehumanizing" treatment.
Smith, who owns the 600-acre property where Assange is staying, referred to a "pretty intrusive regime" and said three cameras had appeared near the property since Assange began his house arrest there.
British prosecutors, however, say the conditions are warranted because the claims against Assange are serious and he is a flight risk.
The Associated Press quotes barrister and legal commentator Carl Gardner as saying that although Assange’s freedom of movement is constrained, "he can move around, he can make public appearances. He is at liberty in the most basic sense of the phrase."
WikiLeaks has offered — via and eBay auction — eight people the chance to dine with Assange at an exclusive London restaurant in early July. (Read about it on GlobalPost.com: WikiLeaks auctions lunch with Julian Assange in eBay fundraiser)
Assange told the AP that he had become "a fixed target" for the U.S. government — which is investigating whether Assange and WikiLeaks violated American laws by releasing tens of thousands of secret government documents, — to surveil him:
“It is easy to conduct surveillance against me and anyone I talk to,” Assange said. “We take steps against this, but it is costly and time-consuming.”
He said his house arrest had been "the single largest impediment to our work, with the possible exception of the illegal blockade being conducted by the major U.S. financial institutions against us."
Some U.S.-based banks and financial services have refused to handle payments to WikiLeaks.