Julian Assange is not in good shape, according to his partner Stella Moris, who was recently able to visit him in prison for the first time in nearly six months. Moris had a 20 minute meeting with Assange at the Belmarsh Prison in south-east London, where he is currently being held. The couple’s two young children also came to meet their father, but everyone had to wear masks, and visitors were not allowed to touch one another.
She told the PA news agency that Assange is looking much thinner than he was the last time she saw him back in March. She says that the situation has been “incredibly stressful” and that he has been having some health problems, including a sprained ankle and a frozen shoulder. While the prison was taking virus precautions when Assange was having visitors, Moris says that they have done nothing to protect the prisoners during regular hours.
“We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children. Julian said it was the first time he had been given a mask because things are very different behind the doors. I could not see him very clearly because of the visors, but he looked a lot thinner. He was wearing a yellow armband to indicate his level of prisoner status, and you could see how thin his arms were,” Moris explained.
“At least he got to see the children, even though he couldn’t touch them. The children were both calm – we all remained seated the whole time,” she added.
She also said that he has not been able to have a face-to-face meeting with his legal team since the coronavirus lockdown began in March and has limited access to the paperwork and files needed for his case. Moris has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with legal costs for Assange as he fights extradition to the United States.
Today I'm launching a crowdjustice campaign to free Julian.
— Stella Moris (@StellaMoris1) August 20, 2020
On the fundraising page, Moris said that, “Julian is being targeted by the United States administration for the crime of journalism. He helped expose war crimes and human rights abuses which the US would have preferred to keep hidden from public view. No-one has been held responsible for the serious crimes Julian has exposed. This extradition aims to entomb and silence him forever. This is a monumental legal case which is an attack on everyone’s right to know about scandals which politicians and governments want buried. If the US government is successful, the ramifications are unthinkable.”
So far, the campaign has raised £60,470.
The extradition hearing is scheduled to take place on the 7th of September at the Old Bailey which is being used as a Magistrates Court for this hearing. Moris described the venue as “an unprecedented forum for an extradition case which acknowledges that the case has huge importance beyond Julian himself.”
Many legal experts agree that this case could set a precedent and have far reaching implications for journalists all over the world.