• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Julian Assange: Priti Patel’s extradition order shows government’s ‘totalitarian bent’, says wife

·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Priti Patel’s decision to send Julian Assange to the US to face espionage charges is part of the government’s “increasingly totalitarian bent”, the wife of the Wikileaks founder has said.

Writing for The Independent, Stella Moris condemned the home secretary for “flouting” calls from the Europe’s leading human rights organisation, doctors and journalists to stop his extradition to the US.

Mr Assange’s wife, a lawyer and campaigner, said last week’s decision by Ms Patel struck a blow for civil liberties at a time the government was also trying to “weaken” human rights legislation.

“The home secretary flouted calls from representatives of the Council of Europe, the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe], almost two thousand journalists and three hundred doctors for the extradition to be halted,” she wrote.

Ms Moris added: “Priti Patel’s decision comes amidst sweeping government reforms of an increasingly totalitarian bent – the plans to weaken the influence of the European Court of Human Rights and the decision to extradite Julian are the coup de grace.”

Assange is currently in Belmarsh prison awaiting extradition to the US. His team have said they will appeal the home secretary’s decision and take their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if necessary.

The government is introducing a new bill to direct British courts the power to ignore rulings from the ECHR, which last week blocked ministers’ plans to send migrants to Rwanda.

Ms Moris also argued that Ms Patel’s proposed reforms to the UK’s Official Secrets Act “largely track the Trump-era indictment against Julian” – pointing to the plan to allow publishers and sources to be charged as criminal co-conspirators.

Mr Assange was arrested in April 2019 having spent five years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after he sought political asylum.

He fought extradition to Sweden, where police had said they wanted to investigate him over two accusations of sexual assault. Mr Assange has denied those claims, and said he believed he would be taken to the US.

The US has been seeking to put Mr Assange on trial since his website in 2010 published a series of leaks which pointed to wrongdoing by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Julian Assange and his wife Stella Moris (WikiLeaks/PA)
Julian Assange and his wife Stella Moris (WikiLeaks/PA)

Ms Moris has told The Independent that her husband is “certain” to die in US custody if he is removed, warning that the Wikileaks founder’s health is deteriorating.

“Julian’s extradition case itself creates legal precedent. What has long been understood to be a bedrock principle of democracy, press freedom, will disappear in one fell swoop,” she stated.

The Wikileaks founder’s wife added: “As it stands, no journalist is going to risk having what Julian is being subjected to happen to them. Julian must be freed before it’s too late. His life depends on it. Your rights depend on it.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “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.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting