Assange’s partner pleads for his release to be with his sons

 

Julian Assange's partner has pleaded for his release as he was due to face claims that he put the lives of United States informers at risk when his long awaited court case begins on Monday.

The Australian WikiLeaks founder, who delayed his court appearance for seven years when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, will finally face his day in court.

He was due to appear at London's famous Old Bailey courthouse, under strict COVID-19 restrictions, for the trial.

Assange, 49, who has had rape charges in Sweden dropped, is facing 175 years in jail in the United States if he was convicted on 18 charges.

 

Stella Morris, who had two children with Assange while he was in the Ecuadorean embassy, said he was in poor health.

She was able to visit him in London's Supermax Belmarsh prison with his sons Gabriel and Max for 20 minutes, with prison access restricted to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"To the boys, Julian has become a voice on the telephone, not their father whom they can see and hug," she said of the children who were born while he was unable to leave the embassy for fear of arrest.

"It is heart breaking to think that if Julian is extradited and put in a US super-max prison the boys will never get to know their father and he will never see them grow up."

 

The United States legal team has argued in previous hearings that Assange released the names of American informers, human rights activists, religious leaders and journalists in Afghanistan.

The names were contained in a leak of hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents.

WikiLeaks documents were found in Osama Bin-Laden's compound when he was executed in Pakistan in 2011, but the US has conceded there was no evidence anyone was killed because of the leaks.

And while initially the leaks were filtered through newspapers including The New York Times, The Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel, Assange dumped the full documents after a password was revealed in a book.

 

Julian Assange could face 175 years in jail. Picture: Supplied
Julian Assange could face 175 years in jail. Picture: Supplied


"He decided to do so on a widely followed and easily searchable website, WikiLeaks, knowing it was dangerous to do so," James Lewis, a lawyer for the US authorities, said at a hearing in London in February.

Assange has claimed that the CIA spied on him while he was in the Ecuadorean embassy, with video footage emerging of him with Ms Morris and also showing visits from Pamela Anderson, the Baywatch star.

The cleaning company allegedly spying for the CIA attempted to get one of his children's nappies for a paternity test.

However, Assange was accused of smearing faeces on the wall during his time in the embassy, which partly prompted their government to revoke their protection.

The case was due to be heard for four weeks, and the losing side was expected to appeal.

It was unlikely that Assange would be taken to the US for at least a year even if he lost the case.

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

 

Originally published as Assange's partner pleads for his release to be with his sons



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