Stella Assange: ‘We Are Going to Fight This’

“We are going to use every appeal avenue,” Stella Assange told a London press conference on Friday after the home secretary signed the extradition order, reports Joe Lauria.

Video courtesy of Don’t Extradite Assange campaign.

By Joe Lauria
in London
Special to Consortium News

Julian Assange’s wife and one of his lawyers on Friday vowed to fight the decision of British Home Secretary Priti Patel to sign an extradition order earlier in the day sending imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States to face trial on espionage and computer intrusion charges.

“This is the outcome that we have been concerned about for the last decade,” Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson told a London press conference. “This decision is a grave threat to freedom of speech, not just for Julian, but for every journalist, editor and media worker.”

She said he faced up to 175 years in a U.S. prison for publishing material for which he has won numerous press awards as well as a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. “This should shock everyone,” she said. 

“We are not at the end of the road, we are going to fight this,” Stella Assange, the publisher’s wife, told the press conference. “We are going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.”

She told the press: “I’m sure you understand the extremely serious implications this has for all of you and for human rights.”

Tim Dawson of the National Union of Journalists told the press briefing: “It is worth thinking through what that threat is from the position of an individual journalist.  Any journalist in this room” who published classified material “will face the same risk.” He said journalists now had to ask themselves “is it worth the risk of going to prison for the rest of my life?”

Stella Assange said she had spoken to her husband just after he had learned of Patel’s decision. “It is very difficult for him to see third parties making life or death decisions on him based on politics,” she said.

Assange has been held in London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison since his arrest in April 2019. He has been charged under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information about U.S. government conduct. Stella Assange said the appeal going to the High Court “is setting legal precedent about the scope of press freedom in this country.”

She added: “What is decided at the High Court about the equivalence between the Espionage Act and the Official Secrets Act as it operates right now, effects all of you and your colleagues. He is one of you, whether you like it or not, because he is being prosecuted as one of you.”

Patel’s Decision

The home secretary signed the extradition order Friday morning. A spokesperson for the Home Office said:

“On 17 June, 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.”

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead she will for ever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise,” WikiLeaks said in reaction.   

Coming Appeals Process

Jen Robinson, l., and Stella Assange at Friday’s press conference. (DEA screenshot)

Robinson said Assange’s legal team have two weeks to file an appeal to the High Court and the United States has 10 days after that to answer.

“We still have our cross appeal points, which includes the free speech argument, his inability to get a fair trial in the United States, the political nature of the offense …, the abuse of process in this case, including spying on Julian and us as his legal team, and a range of other points that will be raised,” Robinson said.  Article 4 of the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty bars extradition for political offenses.

“We are going to raise points that have come up since the original extradition hearing back in 2020, and crucially one of the most important developments is the revelation that the C.I.A. plotted to assassinate Julian while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and kidnap him and rendition him,” Stella Assange added. “This is known to the home secretary but she signed off on it anyway.”

The C.I.A. plot against Assange was corroborated by U.S. officials in a Yahoo! News report.  Then C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo did not deny the report and called on those who leaked it to be prosecuted. Other points of appeal may be that a key U.S. witness on computer charges against Assange recanted his testimony. And Assange’s health has further deteriorated when he suffered a mini-stroke last October.  

Robinson said the appeal process going forward could take from six months to a year. “If necessary we will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights,” she said. 

In a separate case, the European court on Tuesday blocked the home secretary’s order that a plane in London take off with Rwandan asylum seekers because of the dangers they faced upon return to their country. Consortium News asked Stella Assange and Robinson whether they felt any encouragement from the court’s defiance of the home secretary as it may foreshadow the European Court blocking a plane carrying Assange to the U.S. 

“The government is considering withdrawing from the European court,” Assange responded. Indeed, Britain has said it might pull out of the ECHR system in the wake of the Rwanda decision, a threat it has made before.

“It would be an incredibly concerning development if the U.K. withdrew from the European Court of Human Rights,” Robinson said. “And we of course hope that if we have to get that far, to the European court, that they will take the right decision, which is to prevent his extradition. If the U.K. withdraws from the court, that would be incredibly dangerous for every citizen in this country.”

Calls on US and Australian Governments

“We continue to call upon the Biden administration to drop this case because of the grave threat it poses to free speech everywhere,” Robinson said. “And we continue to call on the Australian government to take action to protect its citizen.”

The recently elected Australian government issued a statement Friday saying Assange’s case had “dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close.”

“We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Attorney Genera Mark Dreyfus said in the statement. There has been as yet no reaction from Washington. 

‘Who is Mike Pompeo?’

Stella Assange prepares for interview after press conference. (Joe Lauria)

“It is very difficult to describe what it is like for a family,” Stella Assange said. “Our resolve is redoubled for every decision that is taken, which is a travesty,” she told the media. “I mean I have no words to express what it’s like to see the U.K. process being used as a way to prolong Julian’s suffering.”   

She added: “I have a lot support from millions of people that see this is wrong, and we’ve been wronged as a family.” 

Stella Assange was asked how she will tell their two children that their father won’t be coming home soon. “I don’t see what the point is to tell them that,” she responded.

“I approach this situation as if Julian is on death row and I will spare them that knowledge.” She said they “make the most of it” during family visits at Belmarsh. “I want their memories of their father, of which they might have just some months left, to be positive and happy.”

She said “the other day, our eldest son, who is five, asked me who Mike Pompeo was because he had overheard me saying something about Mike Pompeo being a bad person. He said, ‘Who is Mike Pompeo and where is he?’ How do I say don’t worry about Mike Pompeo?”

“I am fighting every day for my husband’s life,” Stella Assange said, adding:

“He should be free and everyone knows it. The process is being used to hide atrocities from history. … They have to tie themselves up in knots in order to allow this outrageous extradition. I think it’s probably been extremely difficult for them to come up with some kind of semi-coherent argument. … 

The U.K. should not be engaging in persecution on behalf of a foreign power that is out for revenge. That foreign power … committed crimes that Julian put into the sunlight.  Julian has done nothing wrong. He has done everything that any self-respecting journalist should do when given evidence of a state committing crimes — they publish it because their duty is to the public. And Julian’s duty to the public has landed him in prison.”

The extradition order landed on Patel’s desk after the U.K. Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal against a High Court victory for the United States.

The U.S. had appealed a magistrate court’s decision in January last year not to extradite Assange because it would be oppressive to do so based on Assange’s health and the dire conditions of U.S. solitary confinement. The High Court decided in favor of the U.S. based solely on Washington’s conditional diplomatic “assurances” that it would treat Assange humanely.

Robinson said Friday those assurances would be appealed to the European court after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

10 comments for “Stella Assange: ‘We Are Going to Fight This’

  1. Mike
    June 19, 2022 at 18:55

    As Trump demonstrated when he revoked the Obama ‘pardon’ of Chelsea Manning, the world can always be sure the President will be a man of his ‘Word’ – his next.
    For Julian Assange, Justice just isn’t.

  2. Daniel Guyot
    June 19, 2022 at 13:49

    I feel disgusted by that decision. I would like to support effectively Julian Assange, but I am living in France, where that horrible decision is not even reported. I feel isolated and powerless. I would just like to express my support to Julian, if he can hear it. Democracy and freedom seem to be gone forever.

  3. Steve Abbott
    June 18, 2022 at 20:55

    I would just like to go on record, as an expatriate born in the UK, that I feel justifiably contemptuous of the British courts, so if such contempt is a crime, then bring it on. Not to neglect our government… Yes, I am deeply contemptuous of them too. The good of humanity has never been represented by lies, violence, and gross negligence.

  4. LeoSun
    June 18, 2022 at 13:14

    Is it déjà vu; OR, “Ground Hog f/Day?”

    “The best favour is to rescue the one most in need.” (North African proverb)

    TIMES UP!!! Forgive HIM, JULIAN ASSANGE, already, for publishing the innumerable situations of deception, destruction and death executed by the M.I.C. Kay Eeh WHY? B/c “That foreign power … committed crimes that Julian put into the sunlight.  Julian has done nothing wrong. He has done everything that any self-respecting journalist should do when given evidence of a state committing crimes — they publish it because their duty is to the public. And Julian’s duty to the public has landed him in prison.” Stella Assange, the publisher’s wife.

    “THEIR” revenge is to try 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.”

    Consequently, Priti Patel intends to extradite Julian Assange to Joey “the Funeral Director-N-Chief” Biden; &, his Board of Executioners, reassuring everyone, it’s justice….

    “Au contraire, s’il vous plait,” imo, it’s Social Murder. The extradition of Julian Assange is a cold-blooded, barbaric, inhumane Resolution; whose REAL purpose is to wear down RESISTANCE!!!

    HANDS OFF! Never Say Die! “We are not at the end of the road, we are going to fight this,”“We are going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.” “I’m sure you understand the extremely serious implications this has for all of you and for human rights.” (Stella Assange, the publisher’s wife). AGREED. “The foot does not stay where there is no ground.”

    Play it again, “Uncle” SAMs…. Special Administrative Measures

    “The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there;  will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado.”

    “ASSURANCES.” Read all about ‘em @ “Hedges: The Execution of Julian Assange” (DECEMBER 13, 2021). hxxps://scheerpost.com/2021/12/13/hedges-the-execution-of-julian-assange/

    Onward & Upwards!!!

  5. Jim other
    June 18, 2022 at 10:21

    Joe Biden is in bed with that fat pompous Pompeo. There is a need in this corrupt set of leaders to shut up the publisher with the widest reach to uncover the crimes of the US government. Forget prosecuting the perpetrators of the crimes just shut up the truth! Along with a Supreme Court that would put innocent people to death merely because they cannot afford a competent lawyer. A government bought by oil money that cannot run without that oil money. Who cares if people in Bangladesh millions must migrate because their homes are washed away by rising seas fed by the melting glaciers of Antarctica. Kansas needs two growing seasons (Koch)!
    No! Bring on the dictator, Trump! He will clean house and be forever known as the destroyer of the oldest democracy. Democracy is already gone stolen by the kleptocratic capitalists.
    Maybe our new dictator will make peace with Putin and we can live a few more years without an atomic war.
    Can’t we do better!

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    June 18, 2022 at 10:20

    Obviously – and this so many of us already know, the US has plenty to hide or it would not act this way. If only so many in this world would STOP adulating America.

  7. John R
    June 18, 2022 at 10:08

    I finally heard Julian Assange’s name on the PBS News Hour last evening – it briefly mentioned this decision — approximately one-minute of dialogue. We are witnessing a continuing grave injustice intended to kill Assange and the truth about our immoral government / military reality. None of it surprises me but the silence of the MSM and of the citizenry I interact with is deeply disappointing.

  8. ray Peterson
    June 17, 2022 at 18:42

    This woman is the hope for truthfulness in a world
    suffocating from its own deceit.

    • Cal Lash
      June 18, 2022 at 01:16

      The US has a 400 year history of murder and Mayhem. So whats one more killing? Particularly when you got embarrased by a dude exposing the truth!
      The US and England may kill Assange but in the process they have made him a hero for the history books.
      Wheras the really guilty pols have earned a spot in the lowest part of hell and will likey not earn a Historical footnote.

  9. Litchfield
    June 17, 2022 at 15:49

    “The High Court decided in favor of the U.S. based solely on Washington’s conditional diplomatic “assurances” that it would treat Assange humanely. ”

    This is one of the most ghoulishly absurd turns in this case.
    The world knows about the torture of Chelsea Manning.
    The world knows about Guantanamo—and all about the “promises” made by Barack Obama to close down the torture camp.
    The world knows that the USA/CIA tortures whenever it feels like it and has no shame whatsover.
    Because the USA makes its own rules.
    Hollywood even made a movie about this, so it is not in question.
    If the UK turns over Assange to the USA it is essentially accessory to a crime planned out and carried out for over a decade now.
    The world knows that Washington’s “promises” are not made to be kept.
    Washington’s promises are all expedient, to meet a transient need.
    Quite apart from the fact that presumably “diplomatic assurances” come from the State Department, but we know that the CIA is in the rider’s seat.

    The perceived need for the USA to make such a statement is tantamount to an admission of guilt—a “promise” made by a thirsty vampire.

Comments are closed.