Julian Assange must urgently be freed
I want my children to believe that inequitable treatment
is not tolerated in mature democracies
By Stella Moris
- The life of my partner, Julian Assange, is at severe
risk. He is on remand at HMP Belmarsh, and Covid-19 is
spreading within its walls.
and I have two little boys. Since becoming a mother, I
have been reflecting on my own childhood.
parents are European, but when I was little we lived in
Botswana, five miles from the border with Apartheid
South Africa. Many of my parents' friends came from
across the border: writers, painters, conscientious
objectors. It was an unlikely centre for artistic
creativity and intellectual exchange.
history books describe Apartheid as institutional
segregation, but it was much more than that. Segregation
occurred in broad daylight. The abductions, torture and
killings occurred at night.
foundations of the Apartheid system were precarious, so
the regime met ideas of political reform with live
ammunition. In June 1985, South African assassination
squads crossed the border armed with machine guns,
mortars and grenades. As soon as gunfire burst into the
night, my parents wrapped me in a blanket. I slept as my
parents raced the car to safety. The sound of explosions
carried through the capital for the hour and a half that
it took to kill twelve people.
person to be killed was a very close family friend, an
exceptional painter. South Africa claimed the raid had
targeted the armed wing of the ANC, but in reality most
of the victims were innocent civilians and children
killed as they lay sleeping in bed. We left Botswana
absorbed my parents' vivid memories of the raid. If that
terrible night shaped my perspective of the world, the
incarceration of the father of my children will surely
Forming a family with Julian under the circumstances was
always going to be difficult, but our hopes eclipsed our
fears. Initially, Julian and I managed to
carve out a space for a
private life. Our firstborn visited with the help of a
friend. But when Gabriel was six months old, an embassy
security contractor confessed to me that he had been
told to steal the babyís DNA
through a nappy. Failing that they would take the babyís
pacifier. The whistleblower warned me Gabriel should not
come into the embassy anymore. It was not safe. I
realised that all the precautions I had taken, from
piling layers on to disguise my bump to changing my
name, would not protect us. We were totally exposed.
These forces operated in a legal and ethical vacuum that
write volumes about what happened in the months that
followed. By the time I was pregnant with Max the
pressure and harassment had become unbearable and I
feared that my pregnancy was at risk. When I was six
months pregnant Julian and I decided I should stop going
into the embassy. The next time I saw him was in
of Julian being carried out of the embassy shocked many.
It struck a blow to my chest, but it did not shock me.
What happened that morning was an extension of what had
been going on inside the embassy over an eighteen-month
After Julian was arrested a year ago, Spainís High Court
opened an investigation
into the security company
that had been operating inside the embassy. Several
whistleblowers came forward and have informed law
enforcement of unlawful activities
against Julian and his lawyers,
both inside and outside the embassy. They are
cooperating with law enforcement and have provided
investigators with large amounts of data.
revealed that the company
had been moonlighting for a US company closely
associated with the current US administration and US
intelligence agencies and that the increasingly
disturbing instructions, such as following my mother or
the baby DNA directive, had come from their US client,
not Ecuador. Around the same time that I had been
approached about the targeting of our baby, the company
was thrashing out even more sinister plans concerning
Julianís life. Their alleged plots to poison or abduct
Julian have been raised in UK extradition proceedings. A
police raid at the security company directorís home
turned up two handguns with their serial numbers filed
this information is surprising to me but as a parent I
ponder how to manage it.
our children to grow up with the clarity of conviction
that I had as a little girl. Peril lay beyond the South
African border. I want them to believe that inequitable
treatment is not tolerated in mature democracies. At
university in Oxford, I was proud to be at the
intellectual heart of the most mature democracy of them
It is not
just our family who suffers from the infringement of
Julian's rights. If our family and Julian's lawyers are
not off-limits, then nothing is. The person responsible
for allegedly ordering the theft of Gabriel's DNA is
Mike Pompeo, who last month threatened the family
members of lawyers working at the International Criminal
Court. Why? Because the court had had the temerity to
investigate alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan. The
same crimes that Julian exposed through WikiLeaks, and
which the US wants to imprison him over.
needs to be released now. For him, for our family, and
for the society we all want our children to grow up in.
Stella Moris is a lawyer and the sentimental partner of
Julian Assange. - "Source"
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