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“Julian is very tired,” Stella Assange told AZERTAC in her exclusive interview

“Julian is very tired,”  Stella Assange told AZERTAC in her exclusive interview

London, May 4, AZERTAC

Stella Assange, the wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange residing in London, gave an exclusive interview to AZERTAC's London bureau.

She said: “I saw Julian this morning, actually. I went to Belmarsh, and he appeared very tired. It has been a challenging few weeks and months for him. We have a hearing coming up on the 20th, and every day brings new challenges. The prison conditions are very harsh; he is isolated for 21-22 hours a day with limited contact with the outside world. He has no internet access. He listens to the radio and can make calls to me, other family members, and his lawyers. He can also contact his father, brothers, and some friends, but the contact is severely limited. He has been in this situation for five years, and it’s an incredibly difficult existence.

There is no possibility of Julian receiving a fair trial in the United States. He is being prosecuted for journalism—receiving and publishing true information in the public interest. The allegations against him criminalize the protected work that journalists do worldwide. So, even just the premise of the case is wrongful, and apart from that, the espionage used against him is the first time it has been used against a publisher ever. There is no allegation that he was publishing on behalf of a foreign state; the US itself acknowledges that it was for publishing for the public. And he is unable to argue that he published in the public interest. He is not able to mount the public interest defense; the US has charged him with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one under the CFAA, amounting to 175 years in prison.

Well, on the 20th of May, is the next hearing. And it is the hearing that could end Julian’s extradition fight here in the UK. If he loses, then the UK will move to extradite him. He will, of course, apply to the European Court of Human Rights, but that is no guarantee, and he could be extradited within hours, days, or weeks of this decision.

I have felt under the threat in London, especially during the period when Julian was being harassed and made to suffer inside the embassy. I was being followed and felt very vulnerable. I thought, quite plausibly as it turns out, that I was a way through which Julian could be pressured to come out if something happened to me. So yes, we have evidence of this surveillance and other incidents that occurred during that time.”

Assange has been indicted in the US on 18 charges over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 by WikiLeaks. Seventeen of these counts are for espionage, while one is for computer misuse.

On November 18, 2010, a Swedish court ordered Assange’s arrest over rape allegations made by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers. Assange denied the allegations and claimed the Swedish case was a pretext to extradite him or hand him over to the US to face charges over the WikiLeaks releases.

London’s Westminster Magistrates Court in 2011 ordered Assange to be extradited to Sweden, a decision he appealed. In 2012, his final appeal was rejected by the UK Supreme Court, after which he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

The asylum was granted but revoked in April 2019, after which a screaming Assange was carried out of the embassy. Throughout his asylum, UK police patrolled the embassy, saying Assange would be arrested if he left the building over his failure to surrender to bail earlier.

On March 26, Julian Assange was handed a reprieve in his fight against extradition to the US after two judges ruled the WikiLeaks founder could take his case to an appeal hearing – but only if the Biden administration is unable to provide the court with suitable assurances.

Ayten Abbasli

Special correspondent

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