Julian Assange's wife fears he could be killed by 'death penalty or assassination' even with US assurances

26 March 2024, 20:40 | Updated: 26 March 2024, 20:52

Julian Assange's wife warns of 'assassination' as she admits WikiLeaks founder ‘could be killed in the United States’
Julian Assange's wife warns of 'assassination' as she admits WikiLeaks founder ‘could be killed in the United States’. Picture: Alamy / LBC

By Danielle De Wolfe

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's wife has told LBC she believes her husband "could be killed" in the United States, "either through the death penalty or by assassination" if his extradition were to go ahead.

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Stella Assange said she believes her husband "could [also] be put in conditions that will drive him to take his own life" if he is extradited to the US.

In a ruling this morning, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson ordered the US to provide certain assurances, meaning Mr Assange will now not be immediately extradited.

Assange, 52, has been accused of an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Speaking with Andrew Marr, Mrs Assange labelled the current sentence "notoriously harsh".

She added that the couple's two children "love coming to Belmarsh" to see Julian "even though the circumstances are difficult and harsh for them".

Julian Assange's wife believes her husband may still face the death penalty

"It's enjoyable, it's enjoyable for us as a family," she added.

In a February hearing, his lawyers argued that the case against him was a form of "state retaliation".

Today the judges gave the US authorities had three weeks to give those assurances, with a final decision to be made in late May.

In a 66-page ruling for the Julian Assange case, Dame Victoria Sharp said: “Before making a final decision on the application for leave to appeal, we will give the respondent an opportunity to give assurances.

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“If assurances are not given then we will grant leave to appeal without a further hearing.

“If assurances are given then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision on the application for leave to appeal.”

Julian Assange in 2017
Julian Assange in 2017. Picture: Alamy

At the start of Assange’s bid last month, Mark Summers KC argued the US’s prosecution would be retribution for his political opinions, meaning it would be unlawful to extradite him under UK law.

But Clair Dobbin KC, for the US, said the plans to extradite and prosecute Assange are based on his alleged actions, not his political opinions.

The hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice was attended by dozens of journalists and members of the public, with hundreds observing remotely.
Scores of Assange supporters demonstrated outside the central London courthouse over both days, waving banners and inviting passing drivers to honk their horns.