Stella Moris, Ms Assange: ‘Julian’s health is deteriorating’

“Julian’s health is deteriorating: he suffers from depression, he had a stroke in October. But I fight every day”. Stella Moris describes the physical and psychological state of her husband and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been detained in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh prison since April 11, 2019. Moris spoke yesterday at the Journalism Festival in Perugia by connecting remotely to the panel “Assange and WikiLeaks: trial on freedom of information” organized by Stefania Maurizi, journalist, and Joseph Farrell, spokesperson for WikiLeaks.

Assange, who in 2010 released classified documents also containing information on war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now awaiting a likely extradition to the United States. On April 20, a London court will issue an order for the extradition of the Australian journalist to the United States. Extradition to the United States would put Assange at risk of serving 175 years in prison, being charged with various crimes including espionage under the Espionage Act. WikiLeaks reported the news via its Twitter profile , also stressing that the final decision will rest with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

In Britain’s Guantanamo (as Belmarsh prison is nicknamed) are some of Britain’s most dangerous criminals, such as Richard Huckle, convicted of raping 71 children, Charles Salvador, called ‘the most violent British prisoner alive “, and Steve Wright, the Prisoner of Ipswich Ripper. “His range of motion and his ability to move have diminished. In prison, he is surrounded by very dangerous people. For him, it is a daily struggle, but he is trying to gather all his strength to face the next months which will be decisive. to decide its fate,” says Moris.

Assange was arrested in 2010 in Great Britain and since then “he no longer walks as a free man”, explains journalist Maurizi. “His fault? That of publishing information that allowed us to discover terrible war crimes, as well as other journalists. But no one has ever suffered what he has suffered,” he says.

Stella Moris, wife of Julian Assange, speaks during the panel ‘Assange and WikiLeaks: Trial of Freedom of Information’ at the Perugia Journalism Festival

During the meeting, Maurizi pieced together the WikiLeaks affair, beginning with the publication of confidential documents on the site, in an effort to shed light on unethical behavior by governments and corporations. “Some news did not come out in the newspapers – explains the WikiLeaks ambassador, Joseph Farrell – and therefore we exposed the war diaries of Iraq, Iran which showed the true cost of the war, the number of civilian casualties that had never been disclosed.”

The secrets revealed by WikiLeaks with the publication of confidential cables and documents “have nothing to do with the protection of citizens: they are dirty secrets that certainly do not protect ordinary people, but protect state crime and guarantee impunity to institutions that commit crimes,” Maurizi explains.

The treatment suffered by Assange “has been terrible – he continues – and it is above all a treatment that one expects to find in an authoritarian regime, not in a democratic country”. Involved in the case were all those close to the Australian journalist: his wife Stella, friends, colleagues, lawyers and even the two young children. “We didn’t know what they were doing to our first child Gabriel – his wife said -. Whistleblowers spied receiving instructions from above. Unbeknownst to us, they had obtained DNA from Gabriel, who was about six months old at the time, by stealing his diaper and subjecting it to extensive analysis. The CIA planned a series of attacks against Julian and WikiLeaks. All activities committed against us are criminal activities that violate people’s privacy”. Stella Moris continues: “We live in a reality that sees things upside down: paradoxically, criminals are those who can illegally prosecute a journalist and the people around him”.

According to Moris, “the Julian affair is the emblem of the drift undertaken by the United States to judge those who publish information for espionage purposes”. To claim that states, in this case the UK, are extraditing people who have leaked confidential information of public interest is “a dangerous precedent which must be rejected”, he said.

In addition to court cases, there are also personal and family cases. Faced with the possibility of extradition, how do you explain to two young children that they may never see their father again? “I’m not going to explain to him – said Moris – because I am determined to fight for freedom. This is a terrifying, terrible, extraordinary case. If the law worked as it should, extradition would not happen. It is important to emphasize that what is happening to Julian corrupts the position of all other journalists”.

At the center of the Assange case is not only the world of journalism and information, but also the public. “It’s not only about the rights of publishers – concludes Stefania Maurizi -, but also about the rights of citizens. People need to know what the government and institutions are doing behind their backs. To be able to interact and participate, we must also have access to secret information. Because secrecy does not protect citizens, but guarantees the freedom and impunity of criminals”. The case of Julian Assange, concludes Maurizi, “concerns everyone’s right to be informed”.

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