Julian Assange wins right to marry in prison

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Julian Assange wins right to marry in prison

With these shackles I thee wed.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted permission to marry his former lawyer in his high-security British prison, according to UK officials and his fiancée.

Assange, 50, had launched legal action to demand the right to marry in London’s Belmarsh Prison, where he has been in custody since 2019 as he fights US attempts to extradite him on espionage charges.

He was granted permission Thursday to wed Stella Moris, a former member of his legal team with whom he secretly had two children during his seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

“Good news: UK government has backed down 24h before the deadline,” Moris wrote on Twitter alongside an undated photo of them together underneath a rainbow in London.

“Julian and I now have permission to marry in Belmarsh prison. I am relieved but still angry that legal action was necessary to put a stop to the illegal interference with our basic right to marry,” she wrote.

Julian Assange
Assange, pictured here in London in 2016, is fighting extradition to the United States.
REUTERS

“I am relieved that reason prevailed, and I hope there will be no further interference with our marriage,” Moris also said in a statement.

No date has been set for the wedding as Assange continues to fight extradition to the US, where he faces up to 175 years in prison.

The couple made their relationship public in April 2020, revealing that their sons, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, were conceived during the lawyer’s visits to Assange during his seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was avoiding extradition to Sweden on unrelated sex offenses that have since been dropped.

Stella Moris
Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, pictured here in London last month, shared that the couple was granted the right to marry on Thursday.
ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

WikiLeaks said in a statement late Thursday that the couple had launched legal action after they “were essentially being blocked from being able to marry.”

The UK prison service confirmed Thursday that permission had been granted, denying that the couple were treated especially harshly.

“Mr. Assange’s application was received, considered and processed in the usual way by the prison governor, as for any other prisoner,” the Prison Service said.

Assange, an Australian national, was initially arrested in Britain in 2019 for jumping bail after he was kicked out of Ecuador’s embassy.

Julian Assange peeking out from behind a window pane.
Before his arrest in 2019, Assange spent seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy, seen above, in London.
AP

The US government has indicted him on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, UK district court judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled in January that it would be “oppressive” to extradite Assange because of his serious risk of suicide and mental health deterioration.

The US is appealing the decision, with the High Court set to rule within weeks on whether to send the case back to a lower court for fresh consideration.

Whoever loses can also ask for permission for a further, final appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.

With Post wires

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