Julian Assange’s wife today revealed her husband has vowed to kill himself if he is extradited to the US as Priti Patel signed 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 London, 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.
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’.
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.
A Home Office spokesman 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’.
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