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Julian Assange’s wife Stella Moris reveals how they raise children together while he is in jail waiting an extradition decision

In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-08/stella-moris-my-life-with-julian-assange-extradition/101132624, My Australian husband Julian Assange is fighting for his life from within the confines of a three-by-two-metre cell in Britain’s harshest prison, Belmarsh.

The US has accused him of espionage as a result of his work with WikiLeaks in 2010-2011 and wants to extradite him to face court.

If his extradition goes ahead, Julian faces a maximum 175-year prison sentence. As his wife, I fear he will be buried in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system until he dies.

During another extradition hearing last year a UK magistrate blocked Julian’s transfer to the US over fears of “oppressive” conditions that could drive him to take his life.

On July 3, Julian turns 51. It will be the fourth year he has spent his birthday alone in a cell, without conviction.

Is our time together running out?

When Julian is taken from his cell to the prison yard he tilts his head up so his eyes can focus on the distance. If he narrows his eyes, the double razor wire above becomes a blur. Beyond is the open sky.

Julian recently discovered a family of nesting magpies. He spotted their home subversively nestled between the razor wire. I think our family is like those magpies.

When we are together, we are always a few metres from their nest. Our children — Gabriel, who is five, and Max, three — only have memories of their father within the brutal surroundings of Belmarsh prison.

We don’t know how long our children have left with their father. We don’t know if we can visit him or even talk to him on the phone. If the extradition goes ahead, US authorities retain the right to put Julian in conditions so cruel that no one in his position is likely to survive.

It is impossible for Julian and me to escape a feeling that he is on death row. Our weekly visits may be the only time we have left together. But for how much longer? A few months more, a few weeks, a few days and then only a few hours? I fear in the end we will count the minutes and the seconds.

Guards search inside my children’s mouths

Were it not for our children, this approaching catastrophe would be all-consuming. But Julian and I know these may be the only memories that our children will have of their father. We make our visits as joyous as possible.

I don’t need to explain to Gabriel and Max the reality of this place where we go to visit their father. They live it. The children walk under razor wire and past layers and layers of security to reach their daddy.

Guards search inside their mouths, behind their ears and under their feet. The prison dogs sniff them head to toe, front and back.

Last week, Gabriel slipped some daisies he had picked by the prison walls into his pocket to give to his father. After he passed through the metal detector his daisies were confiscated during the pat-down search by one of the guards, albeit reluctantly.

During visits, our family is allowed to embrace at the beginning and end. We can hold each others’ hands across the table. Julian and I are not allowed to kiss. But Julian would rather kiss his wife and be penalised than have that taken away from him too. So, we kiss.

Precious moments for life lessons

The children love visiting their daddy. Julian reads them stories. Gabriel shares his father’s fascination with numbers. Julian teaches them nifty tricks: the best way to peel an orange, how to open chips without losing any of the contents.

These things may sound small to most people, but they are our precious moments together. A canteen selling chips and oranges and the prison’s collection of children’s books are all that is on offer in the visitor’s hall we share with 30-or-so prisoners and their families once or twice a week.

On March 23, we were married in Belmarsh. The prison – normally filled with tragedy and isolation – was turned on its head for a few hours to celebrate our love and commitment. Our nest in the razor wire.

The last time the media photographed Julian was in 2019, through the scratched windows of a prison van.  The UK Authorities insist that our wedding photos not be made public ‘on security grounds’. In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.

June 14, 2022 - Posted by | civil liberties, UK

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