WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been given permission to marry his partner inside the British top-security prison where he is being held as he fights an extradition request from the U.S. government.
The announcement came days after Moris threatened legal action against British Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Belmarsh prison chief Jenny Louis, accusing them of ignoring repeated requests for a wedding ceremony inside the detention facility.
Belmarsh Prison told reporters that the prison governor “received, considered and processed [the couple’s application] in the usual way” and that Assange’s request was treated just like “any other prisoner.”
For much of the couple’s relationship, Assange was wanted by Swedish prosecutors on rape charges and sought by U.S. authorities, who accused him of breaking espionage laws by leaking classified intelligence documents. U.S. prosecutors allege that Assange helped obtain and publicize large troves of secret military and diplomatic documents on American war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange and Moris, a Swedish lawyer, have two young sons together, both of whom were conceived when the anti-secrecy activist sought asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. The couple met when Moris joined Assange’s legal defense team in 2011; they developed a close relationship in 2015 and had their first child three years later, she wrote in court documents.
Moris revealed their secret relationship in March 2020, when she unsuccessfully argued for Assange’s release on bail before a British court. She said she feared Assange, now 50, could die due to the heightened risk of being exposed to the coronavirus in prison.
Assange has been in British custody since 2019 when Ecuador rescinded his asylum status. This January, a British judge ruled against the U.S. extradition request, citing testimony from defense psychiatrists who say Assange actively plans on taking his own life if sent to stand trial in the United States.
The high-profile legal battle continued, with the Justice Department appealing the verdict in court last month, arguing that the psychological assessment at the heart of January’s ruling was flawed. The federal government wants Assange to be flown to Northern Virginia to be tried on 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act. If found guilty, the punishment could be life imprisonment.
Moris told the PA news agency Thursday that she was “relieved that reason prevailed” and hoped “there will be no further interference” with their marriage.