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Assange’s children only have memories of him from prison visiting room – wife

Stella Assange, the wife of Julian Assange, speaks during a press conference in London, after he won a bid at the High Court to bring an appeal against his extradition to the United States (Lucy North/PA)
Stella Assange, the wife of Julian Assange, speaks during a press conference in London, after he won a bid at the High Court to bring an appeal against his extradition to the United States (Lucy North/PA)

Julian Assange’s wife has said the only memories her two children have with their father are in a prison visiting room and that his imprisonment “shouldn’t be happening in a Western liberal democracy”.

Stella Assange said it was “impossible to summarise” what her family was going through after two judges ruled on Monday that Assange could bring an appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Assange faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

He has been in custody at HMP Belmarsh for more than five years, with Stella Assange claiming the ongoing legal battle is a “constant struggle” for the couple and their two children, aged seven and five.

Speaking to the PA news agency after a press conference in London following the decision, she said: “Julian has been in prison for five years, and all the memories that our children have with their father are inside the prison.

“Obviously, we’ve only ever been able to see him in the visiting hall of Belmarsh prison, which is a hallway.

“About 40 other prisoners are meeting their family and friends at the same time.”

Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson ruled that Assange could bring an appeal after the US failed to give satisfactory assurances that he would not be prejudiced due to his nationality, and could use the First Amendment as a defence, at a trial.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice following the ruling, Stella Assange called for the US government to drop its “shameful” case against her husband and branded the assurances given by the US as “trying to paint lipstick on a pig”.

Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Monday (Lucy North/PA)
Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Monday (Lucy North/PA)

She told the PA news agency that her husband’s imprisonment was “extremely cruel and inhuman” and described his legal challenge as a “punishment through process”.

She said: “It’s impossible to summarise what we’re going through, and we’re still going through it.”

“I think once Julian is free, which I believe he will be, then I think we will have to process a lot of what we’ve been going through.

“Over the past five years, it’s been a constant struggle.

“Constant fighting for the next court date, fighting for Julian’s freedom and maintaining what we can in terms of normality and routine by seeing each other when the prison allows us to see them, which is about once or twice a week.

“So juggling all these things and obviously being a mum, being parents, to a five and a seven-year-old, we do our best but of course, this kind of interference with our family life, and with Julian’s freedom, is something that shouldn’t be happening in a Western liberal democracy.”

A date for Assange’s appeal is yet to be fixed.