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Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal Extradition; Stella Moris Blasts “Politically Motivated Prosecution”

StoryJanuary 24, 2022
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A British judge has ruled that political dissident and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the United States. The ruling dealt a major blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to put Assange on trial for espionage charges. Assange has spent over 1,000 days locked up in the Belmarsh high-security prison in London, where he recently suffered a mini-stroke. The “politically driven” prosecution of Assange is punishing “a publisher for doing his work, for having published evidence of U.S. crimes,” says Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancée. “For every win that we get, Julian’s situation doesn’t change. And this is punishment through process.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.

The Biden administration’s efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were dealt a setback today when Britain’s High Court ruled Assange can appeal a narrow part of his case to the British Supreme Court. Assange faces espionage charges and up to 175 years in prison in the U.S. for publishing evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has spent over a thousand days locked up in the Belmarsh high-security prison in London; before that, over seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been granted political asylum.

We’re joined now by Julian Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris.

Stella, it’s great to have you back. Can you talk about the Supreme Court ruling that just came down — rather, the court ruling that just came down?

STELLA MORIS: Well, the High Court had reversed an earlier decision by the lower court, which had blocked extradition to the United States. In December, on December 10th, which is Human Rights Day, the High Court decided that it would greenlight the U.S. extradition, but we put in a request for appeal. And now the High Court has recognized that Julian’s appeal arguments raise really fundamental issues of fairness, and they’ve certified those points so that we can ask the Supreme Court to hear our appeal. But it’s not yet clear whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear that appeal.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how does this work?

STELLA MORIS: Well, the Supreme Court will now take potentially months to decide whether it will hear our arguments. But even if it doesn’t hear our arguments, we still have the possibility to appeal all the other issues, all the other press freedom issues, the arguments that this is a politically driven, politically motivated prosecution, a persecution that is using the courts to further the political persecution against a publisher. For what? For doing his work, for having published evidence of that country’s — of the U.S. crimes.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Julian’s physical and mental health? We have reports of the slow, or perhaps fast, deterioration.

STELLA MORIS: Well, Julian has been in the U.K.'s harshest prison, Belmarsh prison, for over a thousand days. He's only there at the behest of the U.S. government. He’s not serving any sentence in the U.K. And for every day that passes, his health deteriorates further. And in October, on the first day of the extradition appeal, he suffered a mini-stroke. And we are very worried that at any moment he could suffer a more catastrophic health emergency. Mini-strokes, as everyone knows, can be a precursor for much worse health complications.

And, you know, Julian has been deprived of his freedom, deprived of the outside world for over a decade. He was first arrested on the 7th of December, 2010, just seven days after WikiLeaks started publishing Cablegate. And he’s not been a free man since. And his health, his physical health and his mental health are obviously deteriorating, because he’s only a man. He’s a fighter. He’s a strong person, a strong-willed person who believes in the work that he’s done, and he’s aware that this is a fight against a monumental injustice, but there’s only so much a man can take.

AMY GOODMAN: Stella, since we’ve spoken, you had applied to be married, the two of you. The prison forbade that and then reversed their decision. And today, as you stood outside the new court ruling, you said, “Today we won, but Julian continues to suffer. Julian must be freed.” Your final 10-second comment?

STELLA MORIS: Well, you know, Julian — for every win that we get, Julian’s situation doesn’t seem to change. And this is punishment through process. That has to end. The Biden administration should just drop this. We shouldn’t have to be taking it through the U.K. justice system, because this is a political prosecution that was initiated by the Trump administration, and it is causing ongoing harm, not just to Julian, not just to us —

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. Stella Moris, thank you so much for being with us. I’m Amy Goodman.

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