Assange offline but still in good spirits

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is said to be in good spirits but upset at having only limited internet access in the prison where he is being held.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Assange was to be transferred to the segregation unit of Wandsworth prison and that the authorities there were planning to limit his access to the internet.

He had asked to be housed away from other prisoners after the amount of interest in his arrival, it said, adding that some inmates were supportive of Assange.

The news came as Dutch authorities arrested a 16-year-old who was reported to have admitted being involved in the cyber attacks against credit card companies that withdrew support for WikiLeaks.

The teenager faces up to six years in prison after being arrested after officers from the high-tech crime unit of the Dutch national police force entered his home in The Hague while he slept.

He confessed to "attacks on MasterCard and Visa" and is "probably part of a larger group of hackers", according to a statement released by the Dutch national prosecutor's office.

Assange was remanded in custody on Wednesday after British police arrested him on a Swedish warrant for suspected sex crimes.

Sweden is seeking his extradition over allegations of sexual assault.

Assange's legal team will attempt to secure bail for him from Westminster magistrates on Wednesday.

His solicitor, Mark Stephens, told the Guardian Assange was "quite chipper - he seemed to be bearing up" but had complained about the daytime TV. He also said Assange "doesn't have access to a computer, even without an internet connection, or to writing material. He's got some files but doesn't have any paper to write on and put them in."

One of his lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, said Mr Assange was confident of getting bail next week and was doing well, given the circumstances.

"But he is of course very frustrated to be held in prison because it does impede his access to his lawyers," she told ABC Radio on Friday.

"We only had an hour with him this afternoon, which is appallingly inadequate for the preparation of our next appeal."

Mr Assange wanted to be able to respond to claims that he instructed computer hackers to attack MasterCard and Visa for refusing to accept payments to the WikiLeaks website, Ms Robinson said.

"He sees this as a deliberate attempt to conflate hacking organisations ... and WikiLeaks, which is not hacking," she said.

"It is a news organisation and a publisher."

Ms Robinson fears Mr Assange's possible extradition to Sweden could lead to espionage charges in the US.

She also pointed to reports questioning the credibility of the women who have made complaints against her client.

Their accusations centre on the fact that Mr Assange did not wear a condom during intercourse with them, despite their wishes.

"Obviously rape allegations are to be taken very, very seriously."

Pfizer 'tried to blackmail lawyer'
United States drugmaker Pfizer hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against the Nigerian Attorney-General to convince him to drop legal action against the company over a drug trial involving children, the Guardian reported, citing US diplomatic cables.

Nigeria's Kano state sued the world's largest drugmaker in May 2007 for US$2 billion ($2.7 billion) in damages over testing of the meningitis drug Trovan, which state authorities said killed 11 children and left dozens disabled.

The cable reports a meeting between Pfizer's country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and US officials at the Abuja embassy on April 9, 2009.

It states: "According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal Attorney-General Michael Aondoakaa to put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. Pfizer and Kano's state Government signed a US$75 million settlement on July 30.

Reports of Myanmar missile base
Witnesses in Myanmar claim to have seen evidence of secret nuclear and missile sites being built in remote jungle, according to cables released by WikiLeaks that appear on the Guardian newspaper's website.

A Burmese officer quoted in a cable from the US Embassy in Myanmar said he had witnessed North Korean technicians helping to construct an underground facility in foothills more than 480km northwest of Yangon.

"The North Koreans, aided by Burmese workers, are constructing [an] underground facility that is '500ft from the top of the cave to the top of the hill above'," the cable says.

'West's democracy not perfect'
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shows the West has its own problems with democracy.

Putin was responding at a news conference to a request for comment on leaked diplomatic cables that suggested Russia is corrupt to the highest echelons of power: "You think that the US diplomatic service is a crystal clear source of information?" Putin said.

He said that, if the West was democratic, then "why was Mr Assange hidden in prison?"

- Agencies

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