Julian Assange’s wife today revealed her husband has vowed to kill himself if he is extradited to the US assigned an order to send him to Virginia to face espionage charges and potentially a 175-year jail sentence.
Stella Moris has pledged to fight the decision with ‘every available avenue’, declaring: ‘I’m going to use every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free.’
She said her husband had told her ‘recently’ that he planned to kill himself if he was extradited and revealed that a new appeal would include evidence that the CIA allegedly tried to kill him with poison when he was hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
It came hours after the Home Secretary rubber stamped the order issued by a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to fly the WikiLeaks founder to America where he will be handed over to federal agents and put on trial.
Ms Moris, who had two children with the fugitive and married him in Belmarsh Prison in March, told a press conference in central London today: ‘We are not at the end of the road here. We are going to fight this. We are going to use every available avenue. I’m going to use every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served’.
Ms Moris added: ‘If he’s extradited to the US, the conditions he will be under will be oppressive. It will drive him to take his own life. That’s not simply a regular discussion about mental health. We are talking about driving a person to take their own life’.
She went on: ‘It is very difficult to describe what it’s like as a family. Our resolve is redoubled for every decision that is taken which is a travesty. I have no words to express what it’s like to see the UK process being used as a way to prolong Julian’s suffering.
‘He’s very strong… we have to fight back. His instinct is to fight back and so is mine. We’re going to fight back harder’.
And asked if she thought their young children would ever be reunited with their father as a free man, she said: ‘We have that image and that hope. That’s what drives us. But we have the conviction that this wrong will be righted and the courts will, eventually, do the right thing.’
Assange, who is currently held in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison in south-east, has 14 days to appeal. His barrister, Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, said she would now ‘exhaust’ every legal avenue possible including going to Strasbourg, whose judges grounded a plane taking migrants to Rwanda this week. Crowdfunders have raised more than £55,000 since the start of the year to help pay his legal bills.
If any appeal is rejected in the coming weeks – or doesn’t make it to court – then there will be no more obstacles preventing him from being flown to America, potentially in July.
Stella Moris, activist and wife of Julian Assange, reacts during a news conference after Britain approved the US extradition of her WikiLeaks’ founder husband
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they would go to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary
Julian Assange (pictured left in 2019, and right in 2020) is a step close to extradition to the United States after Priti Patel signed an order agreeing he could be sent to the US
The Home Secretary (pictured this week) has rubber stamped the order issued by a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to fly the WikiLeaks founder to America where he will be handed over to federal agents and put on trial
Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, who married the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder in April, said: ‘Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed that the Home Secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted his assassination’
Stella Moris, the partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, is photographed with their sons Max, 3, and Gabriel, 4, in her Vivienne Westwood designed wedding dress on their prison wedding day
Assange has been in Belmarsh for three years – having spend seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy
WikiLeaks today declared it is ‘not the end’ and pledged to go back to court to try to keep him in Britain, claiming today is a ‘dark day for press freedom and British democracy’ and accusing Ms Patel of choosing not to ‘do the right thing’.
What routes are left for Julian Assange to fight against his extradition to the US?
High Court appeal
Assange’s legal team have previously said there are other parts of his appeal that had not yet been heard by the High Court.
Last month Assange was denied permission to appeal his extradition to the US. He had asked theto allow him to challenge a December 2021 decision by the High Court, which ruled he could be extradited to America.
The Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, denied his request to challenge the ruling as his application did not raise ‘an arguable point of law’.
However, responding to the judgment, Assange’s legal team said: ‘No appeal to the High Court has yet been filed by him in respect of the other important issues he raised previously in Westminster Magistrates’ Court.’
What do experts say?
Commenting on the hearing, Thomas Garner, Extradition Partner at Fladgate, said: ‘Assange is notionally a step closer to extradition to the US, however there could still be additional traction in this case. Assange’s lawyers have already indicated that they intend to launch a further challenge at the High Court.
‘He may have another opportunity to avoid extradition as the line of challenge terminated by the Supreme Court ultimately followed a victory at first instance by Assange. In that decision, Assange won on a single point but lost on several others.
‘The Magistrate’s decision to block his extradition was appealed by the US, but Assange did not himself make a cross appeal on the other matters. It is here that his team will focus their fire now.
‘If the High Court were to refuse permission to appeal then he would reach the end of the line domestically, but if he succeeds in securing permission to appeal then his challenge could last for many months yet.’
Assange’s barrister, Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, said she would now ‘exhaust’ every legal avenue possible including going to Strasbourg, whose judges grounded a plane taking migrants to Rwanda this week.
She said: ‘We have 14 days and we will appeal this all the way – if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel made her decision on Friday, which WikiLeaks said was the ‘very last day’ it could be announced.
Aspokesman said: ‘Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made. Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case.
‘On June 17, following consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Mr Julian Assange to the US was ordered. Mr Assange retains the normal 14-day right to appeal.
‘In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.
‘Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.’
WikiLeaks say they will appeal.
Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed that the Home Secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted his assassination,’ the organisation said in a statement posted to Twitter.
‘Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job.
‘It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.’
WikiLeaks said the decision is ‘not the end of the fight’ and it will launch an appeal via the High Court.
It said Mr Assange is facing a ‘political case’ in which there is an attempt to ‘disappear him into the darkest recesses of their prison system for the rest of his life to deter others from holding governments to account’.
‘We will not let that happen,’ the statement adds. ‘Julian’s freedom is coupled to all our freedoms. We will fight to return Julian to his family and to regain freedom of expression for us all.’
Assange’s supporters, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and members of Amnesty International, held a protest outside the court in the build up to the last extradition hearing in April.
Supporters held banners with slogans including ‘Free Assange’ and ‘Don’t Extradite Assange’.
Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, who married the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder last month, was also at the hearing and sat in the public gallery.
But they lost the case.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International secretary general said of the extradition order: ‘Allowing Julian Assange to be extradited to the US would put him at great risk and sends a chilling message to journalists the world over.
‘If the extradition proceeds, Amnesty International is extremely concerned that Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment.
‘Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.
‘We call on the UK to refrain from extraditing Julian Assange, for the US to drop the charges, and for Assange to be freed.’
Julian Assange speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he hid for seven years
Assange’s supporters, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and members of Amnesty International, held a protest outside the court in the build up to the hearing
Stella Moris, 38, married 50-year-old Julian Assange (left) in Belmarsh Prison, south east London on March 23, just weeks before the third anniversary of his dramatic arrest when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in the capital in April 2019
Julian Assange will NOT be held in a supermax jail if he’s extradited, US assures UK
Wikileaks founderwill not be held in supermax prison conditions if he is allowed to be extradited to the United States, American officials have assured British authorities.
American officials have made the compromise in the hopes of finally ending the lengthy battle to put Assange, 50, on trial for espionage charges in the United States, thereported last month.
If Assange is convicted in an American court, U.S. officials have also said the Australian would be allowed to serve jail time in his home country, the outlet reported.
The revelations were made in a court ruling provided by the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service obtained by the outlet.
Assange has been in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping bail seven years earlier during a separate legal battle.
He had spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador’s London embassy, where he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks´ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
The prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published.
Assange is wanted in America over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He has always denied wrongdoing.
Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison for three years since being dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
In March he was denied permission to appeal his extradition to the US. He asked theto allow him to challenge a December 2021 decision by the High Court, which ruled he could be extradited to America.
However, in March the Supreme Court confirmed it had rejected Assange’s appeal request.
The Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, denied his request to challenge the ruling as his application did not raise ‘an arguable point of law’.
After the hearing, lawyers for Assange issued a statement and raised concerns about the reliance of the court on the US’s guarantee regarding the prison conditions Mr Assange would be kept in, should he be extradited.
Assange is wanted in America over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
If convicted in the US, Assange faces a possible penalty of up to 175 years in jail, his lawyers have said.
However the US government said the sentence was more likely to be between four and six years.
It followed WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
He says the information exposed abuses by the US military, but the US say the leaks of classified material endangered lives, and so the US sought his extradition from the UK.
US authorities brought a successful High Court challenge against a January ruling by then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser that Assange should not be sent to the US, in which she cited a real and ‘oppressive’ risk of suicide.
Assange wed partner, Ms Moris, at Belmarsh prison last month.
Moris left the high security jail linked arm in arm with her father-in-law wearing a dress designed by Vivienne Westwood.
Fighting back tears and wearing her wedding dress, she said: ‘I’m very happy but I’m very sad… I wish he were here… What we’re going through is inhuman.’
She added: ‘He’s the most amazing person in the world and he should be free.
‘But our love will carry us through.’.
Mr Assange married Ms Moris, 38, in front of four guests and two witnesses this afternoon. Two prison officers attended the ceremony, one of whom acted as official photographer.
Assange and his new wife, Ms Moris announced their engagement in November last year.
The couple, who have two children together – Max, two, and Gabriel, four – were wed by registrar inside the prison shortly after midday.
Timeline: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s long legal battle
Assange creates Wikileaks with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to leak information. He quickly becomes its figurehead and a lightning rod for criticism.
March: U.S. authorities allege Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack a classified U.S. government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
July: Wikileaks starts releasing tens of thousands of top secrets documents, including a video of U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. What followed was the release of more than 90,000 classified US military files from the Afghan war and 400,000 from Iraq that included the names of informants.
August: Two Swedish women claim that they each had consensual sex with Assange in separate instances when he was on a 10-day trip to Stockholm. They allege the sex became non-consensual when Assange refused to wear a condom.
First woman claims Assange was staying at her apartment in Stockholm when he ripped off her clothes. She told police that when she realized Assange was trying to have unprotected sex with her, she demanded he use a condom. She claims he ripped the condom before having sex.
Second Swedish woman claims she had sex with Assange at her apartment in Stockholm and she made him wear a condom. She alleges that she later woke up to find Assange having unprotected sex with her.
He was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Assange was granted permission by Swedish authorities to fly back to the U.K.
November: A Swedish court ruled that the investigation should be reopened and Assange should be detained for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.
Wikileaks releases its cache of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.
December: Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.
February: A British judge rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden but Wikileaks found vows to fight the decision.
April: A cache of classified U.S. military documents is released by Wikileaks, including intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who are detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
November: Assange loses High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.
June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum.
August: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.
June: Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped out of fear he will be extradited to the U.S.
August: Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.
July: Wikileaks begins leaking emails U.S. Democratic Party officials favoring Hillary Clinton.
November: Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days.
January: Barack Obama agrees to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison. Her pending release prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile after Wikileaks tweeted he would agree to U.S. extradition.
April: Lenin Moreno becomes the new president of Ecuador who was known to want to improve diplomatic relations between his country and the U.S.
May: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Swedish prosecutors.
January: Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange following his request.
February: Assange is visited by Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
March: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange’s internet access because he wasn’t complying with a promise he made the previous year to ‘not send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states’.
August: U.S. Senate committee asks to interview Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
September: Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.
October: Assange reveals he will launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’.
November: U.S. Justice Department inadvertently names Assange in a court document that says he has been charged in secret.
January: Assange’s lawyers say they are taking action to make President Trump’s administration reveal charges ‘secretly filed’ against him.
April 6: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level Ecuadorian source has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within ‘hours or days’. But a senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to remove him from the London building.
April 11: Assange has his diplomatic asylum revoked by Ecuador and he is arrested by the Metropolitan Police; he is remanded in custody by a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court.
April 12: He is found guilty of breaching his bail terms.
May 1: Sentenced to 11 months in jail.
May 2: Court hearing takes place over Assange’s proposed extradition to the U.S. He tells a court he does not consent to the extradition and the case is adjourned until May 30.
May 13: Swedish prosecutors reopen rape case saying they still want to question Assange.
June 3: Swedish court rules against detaining him in absentia, setting back the extradition case.
June 12 Home Secretary Sajid Javid signs an extradition request from the US.
June 13 A hearing sets out the date for Assange’s full extradition hearing – February next year.
November Swedish prosecutors stop investigation into an allegation of rape against Mr Assange
November 25 – Medics say without correct medical care Assange ‘could die’ in Belmarsh
December 13 – Hearing in London hears he is being blocked from seeing key evidence in case
December 19 – Appears at Westminster Magistrates Court via video-link where his lawyer claims US bid to extradite him is ‘political’.
February 24 –Assange faces an extradition hearing at Woolwich Crown Court.
Assange’s representatives argue he cannot legally be handed to the US for ‘political offences’ because of a 2003 extradition treaty.
March 2 – Assange appears by video link at Westminster Magistrates Court, where he is refused bail amid the coronavirus crisis.
April 11 – Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, who gave birth to his two children while he was living inside the Ecuadorian embassy, issues a plea for his release amid fears for his health.
June 24 – The US Department of Justice issues an updated 18-count indictment, over Assange’s alleged role in ‘one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States’.
August 25 – Ms Moris visits her partner in Belmarsh prison for the first time in almost six months.
September 7 – Assange’s extradition hearings resume at the Old Bailey. They are expected to go on for up to four weeks.
October 1 – Judge Vanessa Baraitser adjourned the case at the Old Bailey until January 4.
January 4 – Judge Baraitser strikes down US extradition bid.
October – Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, hears two-day appeal from US.
December 10 – They rule in favour of the US and overturn decision not to extradite Assange.
January – High Court gives Assange permission to ask the Supreme Court to consider his case.
April – After years of legal toing and froing, Westminster Magistrates’ Court formally issued an order to extradite the WikiLeaks founder
June – Priti Patel signs an order to extradite Julian Assange to the US to face espionage charge