Julian Assange Marries Stella Moris in a British Prison

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is fighting extradition to the United States on espionage charges, married Stella Moris, his longtime partner with whom he has two young children, on Wednesday in a prison in London.

The ceremony was held at Belmarsh Prison, a high-security men’s facility in southeast London, where Mr. Assange has been held since 2019.

WikiLeaks published footage on Twitter of Ms. Moris briefly addressing journalists and supporters who gathered outside the prison, where she cut into a tiered wedding cake after the private ceremony. She wore a flowing veil with words inscribed on it that included: “relentless,” “valiant” and “free enduring love.”

“I’m very happy and very sad,” Ms. Moris said. “I love Julian with all my heart, and I wish he were here.”

It was not immediately clear who attended the ceremony or if the couple was allowed to hold a reception or spend time alone after the wedding.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers declined to comment on Wednesday; and the prison did not immediately comment.

A photo posted by the WikiLeaks Twitter account before the wedding showed Ms. Moris in her gown, holding a bouquet of flowers. The couple’s two children were dressed in purple kilts and bow ties.

In an essay in The Guardian that was published on Wednesday, Ms. Moris wrote that every aspect of the private ceremony was being intensely policed, from the couple’s wedding photo to the guest list.

“This is not a prison wedding, it is a declaration of love and resilience in spite of the prison walls, in spite of the political persecution, in spite of the arbitrary detention, in spite of the harm and harassment inflicted on Julian and our family,” Ms. Moris wrote. “Their torment only makes our love grow stronger.”

“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,” Ms. Moris said on Twitter at the time.

Mr. Assange’s application to wed was not given special treatment, a prison spokesman said. Prisoners in England are entitled to apply to be married while in custody, and are responsible for paying for the service, according to the Marriage Act of 1983.

In the days leading up to the wedding, Ms. Moris had been retweeting an announcement indicating a “solidarity vigil” would be held on Wednesday outside the prison. A similar celebration was scheduled in Melbourne, Australia.

“It’s not the wedding we would have planned, in a church in the outside world, surrounded by family and friends,” Ms. Moris told The Daily Mail this month.

The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood designed a tartan kilt for Mr. Assange to wear and a full-length wedding dress for Ms. Moris, the publication said.

In 2012, Mr. Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London as he was fighting extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in a rape inquiry, which was later dropped. Ms. Moris was hired as part of the legal team fighting those extradition efforts, and during the seven years he was holed up in the embassy, she and Mr. Assange developed a relationship and had two sons, Gabriel and Max.

The Case Against Julian Assange

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What are the criminal charges brought on by the U.S.? After his expulsion from the embassy, the U.S. unsealed an indictment against Mr. Assange and sought his extradition. Prosecutors have accused him of violating the Espionage Act for his role in the 2010 disclosures and of participating in a hacking conspiracy. (He is not charged for the publication of the D.N.C. emails in 2016.)

Why does his case raise media freedom issues? The solicitation and publication of government secrets is a journalistic-style activity, whether or not Mr. Assange counts as a journalist. That raises novel First Amendment issues and could establish a precedent constraining investigative journalism about military, intelligence and diplomatic matters.

Where is Mr. Assange now? After he was expelled from the embassy, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail in London for for breaching bail conditions related to the rape inquiry; he has remained in prison while the U.S. extradition case is pending.

Can the U.S. extradite him? In January, a court rejected the U.S. extradition request on the grounds that Mr. Assange might be driven to suicide by American prison conditions. The Trump administration appealed, and the Biden administration later made assurances of humane treatment. On Dec. 10, a higher court ruled that Mr. Assange can be extradited. His lawyer said they will seek to appeal.

In a video posted to the WikiLeaks YouTube channel in 2020, Ms. Moris said they intentionally chose to start a family despite the circumstances.

Ms. Moris, who is originally from South Africa, said that Mr. Assange watched their sons being born on a video call. The boys are British citizens and are accustomed to visiting their father in prison, she said.

Mr. Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorean Embassy and arrested in April 2019 by the British police, and was soon taken to Belmarsh.

In May 2019, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Mr. Assange had been indicted in the United States on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were published on WikiLeaks in 2010 after being leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. military intelligence analyst.

After years of court battles, Britain’s Supreme Court last week said it had refused Mr. Assange’s latest appeal to prevent his extradition to the United States. While the announcement was a setback for Mr. Assange, his lawyers said he still had other legal options in the British courts.

Neil Vigdor and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed reporting.


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