On 16th April 2020, Stefania Maurizi writes
Julian Assange is not a person who likes to appear fragile. Quite the opposite; to protect himself and his organisation, he has always avoided revealing his vulnerabilities and those of his organisation, WikiLeaks. Thus only extreme concern could have made his partner, Stella Morris, finally step out of anonymity last week to reveal not only that behind Mr. WikiLeaks there is a family man with two little children, but also that she fears losing him to coronavirus. In fact, his health is already in shambles, and now that judge Vanessa Baraitser – who presides over his extradition hearing – has denied him permission to leave the Belmarsh high-security prison in London, he is at risk like never before.
Fatto Quotidiano has had exclusive access to Morris’ court statement, and to some of the UK authorities’ internal communications on Julian Assange obtained through a five-year-long Freedom of Information Act litigation which is still ongoing, as well as to UG Global internal documents on the espionage activities against Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Documents revealing the extreme conditions Julian Assange has been living under in recent years.
Suicide risk, isolation, coronavirus
“The most difficult time in Belmarsh was in the months when in the Healthcare unit, he was in effective solitary confinement for most of the time. He finds isolation and its prospect terrifying”, Stella Morris writes in her statement to the judge, full of concern for her partner. “I have feared with strong reason for a long time that I will lose Julian to suicide if there is no way in which he can stop his extradition to the USA”, Morris continues in her declaration, “I now fear I may lose him for different reasons and sooner to the virus. I know very well that his health is extremely poor and can detail the different aspects of that poor health”. Morris describes how she had observed her partner on different occasions when he was in the Embassy and “how he struggled with physical crises as well mental”. At Belmarsh, things got worse and worse: “When in the Healthcare unit”, Stella Morris states, “he was taken from a ward into a single cell for many months in a form of isolation save for a very few hours each day I noticed how he, as I described at the time was visibly ‘very diminished…like a withering flower’. I observed how he could no longer function coherently. There is no doubt in my mind that that experience was one which it would be extraordinary worrying if it were to be repeated as I believe it is now. It is a matter of general knowledge that the future of the coronavirus will require enforcement of whatever forms of isolation, however inadequate, can be maintained in an institutional setting”.
The fact that even in these precarious conditions the British authorities refuse to release Julian Assange from Belmarsh comes as no surprise to those who have investigated his case in the last decade. Documents we have obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the historic lack of interest by the UK authorities in how confinement inside the Ecuadorian embassy was impacting Assange’s health. In one of the internal emails dated November 2012 and written by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – the UK authority currently in charge of handling the US extradition request – the CPS wrote: “I heard the BBC World service radio report early this morning about his health […] There is no question of him being allowed out of the Ecuadorian embassy, treated and then allowed to go back. He would be arrested as soon as was appropriate […] As for the weight lost, there are many people of my acquaintance [obviously just women] who would always welcome this”.
A family man
The revelations that Julian Assange has two children surprised everyone, even long-time media partners of WikiLeaks. The author of this article has worked on the secret WikiLeaks documents for the last 11 years and has met him and the WikiLeaks journalists dozens of times. Assange has never, ever introduced his children or partner to us. Stella Morris has been a constant presence in the WikiLeaks team since 2011, and some of the media partners guessed at a romantic relationship between Assange and Morris and knew he enjoys children, but the WikiLeaks founder has always protected his private life.
Stella Morris, whose previous name was Sara Gonzalez Devant, has worked for many years as a legal researcher for the Julian Assange case. Her academic background is notable: she graduated in Law and Politics from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and obtained a Master of Science in Forced Migrations from the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre (RSC). Professor Matthew Gibney, Director of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, told Il Fatto Quotidiano: “She was a serious, determined, driven, mature and intelligent student. She came to Oxford with some important practical experience because she had worked in the Office of the President of East Timor in the early 2000s. She was awarded the prize for best thesis in her year at Oxford for a thesis on East Timor and displacement. This was a considerable achievement amidst an impressive bunch of students
UC Global spies: Operation Diaper
While Julian Assange and Stella Morris were shielding their private lives from the eyes of dozens of media people dealing with WikiLeaks for years, they were exposed to unprecedented spying activities by UC Global, a company based in Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, in southern Spain, which had been engaged by the Ecuadorian authorities to protect their embassy in London and Julian Assange.
Fatto Quotidiano has had access to multiple audios, videos, emails and pictures. UC Global targeted everyone: not even Gabriel, Morris and Assange’s firstborn son, was spared by the UC Global spies. A lengthy video shows how even the baby’s wails were recorded by the microphones placed inside the embassy. Emails provide evidence that while UC Global was very interested in the lawyer Renata Avila, in Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks’ journalist who flew to Hong Kong to save Snowden, in the Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat, in the film-makers and journalist Juan and José Passarelli, and in Assange’s lawyers, Baltazar Garzon and Jennifer Robinson, they devoted “special attention” to Stella Morris. “We believe that is a false name”, UC Global’s boss, Davide Morales writes in his emails to the UC Global employees, saying that there were rumors “she had a baby by the host. She is supposedly Uruguayan, but once we came to identify a person related to her (mother) in Catalonia. If necessary I want a person fully dedicated to this activity, so if you have to hire someone to do it, tell me. All this has to be considered top secret so that the diffusion is limited”.
The baby UC Global was referring to is Gabriel, the firstborn son of Morris and Assange. To try to protect him and avoid revealing his identity, Gabriel was brought to the embassy to visit his father by a common friend. But UC Global was skeptical that the friend was the actual father, as “he is homosexual”.
The UC Global spying activities against WikiLeaks are now at the center of a criminal investigation by judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court (Audiencia Nacional). According to a protected witness, UC Global even planned to steal the baby’s diaper. By gathering his feces and performing a DNA test, they hoped to establish whether the newborn was a secret son fathered by Julian Assange. It was only thanks to the fact that a UC Global employee alerted the mother that the plan collapsed. However, the CIA might already know a lot about the little child: according to a protected witness, the videos, the audio recordings, the pictures and emails gathered at the Ecuadorian embassy by UC Global were shared with US intelligence.
Spanish lawyer Aitor Martinez, a member of Julian Assange’s legal team who was also filmed by UC Global, thinks that these activities targeting the WikiLeaks founder, his partner, children and the collaborators and lawyers, doctors, and journalists who visited him were so extreme that extradition to the US must be denied.
Original Article in Fatto Quotidiano