Stella Assange – Pope Francis a massive moral protection

Stella Assange

Stella Assange, the wife of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, met Pope Francis in the Vatican last Friday.

The two Assange children accompanied their mother to the meeting.

Afterwards, she described the Holy Father as a “massive moral protection.”

Stella Assange said they spoke about her husband’s “day-to-day suffering in prison, the cruelty of being away from family and the strain of not knowing how long he’ll be incarcerated.”

Francis is aware of the “urgency” of the situation, she says. He knows her husband’s legal team is expecting his appeal against the extradition to be heard this summer.

Julian Assange has spent four years in London’s Belmarsh prison. He faces up to 175 years jail on espionage charges in the US in relation to military and diplomatic cables he published on WikiLeaks.

Pope Francis has been following the case and understands the situation is critical, Stella Assange says.

“We discussed the way in which political prosecutions use processes to prolong incarceration and that Julian is not convicted of any crime, that he’s been in the wing of his prison the longest, but he’s there without formally being a prisoner. [Francis] has seen other cases like this before.”

Stella Assange says Francis is a “moral authority that transcends politics” who “has provided great comfort to our family”.

She says other Church figures had spoken to Francis about the Assange case.

Freedom of the press

Throughout his pontificate, Francis has consistently defended press freedom.

He considers it “an important indicator of the state of a country’s health”.

He often expresses solidarity with prisoners too, and has spoken about long prison sentences being like a “hidden death sentence”.

It’s thought possible that Francis may be able to use his good relationship with President Joe Biden to influence the US authorities over Assange’s plight.

Assange supporters say his WikiLeaks actions exposed important information about conditions in the US military’s Guantanamo Bay camp and the army’s conduct during the 2003 Iraq War.

Prosecutors allege that he pushed Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst, to obtain classified diplomatic cables and military files. WikiLeaks later published these, putting lives at risk.

The Vatican has also come in for unfavourable Wikileaks attention. In 2010 WikiLeaks released cables showing diplomats describing the Vatican leadership in an unfavourable light.

Then in 2019 WikiLeaks released information about the Order of Malta’s public battle with Francis.

Stella Assange, a lawyer, married her husband in prison in 2022. They have two children.


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, World.

Tags: , ,