Julian Assange reportedly suffered a stroke while in Belmarsh prison amid extradition according to his fiancée, Stella Moris, who believes the stroke was caused by stress related to his trial, sharing the news Saturday night.
Assange is known for exposing the U.S. government under WikiLeaks, where he published thousands of pages of leaked documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan war.
The mini-stroke occurred during a High Court appearance via video link from Belmarsh in October. Called a “transient ischemic attack” in technical terms, the attack signals that there has been an interruption of the blood supply to the brain and can be a warning sign of a full stroke.
#Assange’s stroke is no surprise.
As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness & persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.#UK is literally torturing him to death.https://t.co/ULuM2k5XgA
— Nils Melzer (@NilsMelzer) December 12, 2021
Assange, 50, had an MRI scan shortly after and is now taking anti-stroke medication.
The father and groom to be remains in Belmarsh prison, a maximum security facility, despite his declining health. Assange reportedly has a drooping right eyelid, memory problems, and neurological damage following the stroke.
The WikiLeaks publisher also believes that the stroke was caused by stress as he continues to fight the U.S. court case against him from prison. This year will mark Assange’s third Christmas behind bars.
Moris is fearful that Assange could experience a more devastating attack while at Belmarsh.
“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Moris, a lawyer, explained.
“It urgently needs to be resolved. Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian. The never-ending court cases are extremely stressful mentally,” Assange’s fiancée added.
Drawing on the zoo-animal comparison, Moris said that the Wikileaks publisher was often left alone in his cell, deprived of “fresh air and sunlight, an adequate diet and the stimulus he needs.”
On Friday, the High Court overturned a ruling made earlier this year preventing his extradition to the U.S. to face charges under the Espionage Act after the U.S. offered assurances about his imprisonment conditions– conditions his lawyers argued could lead to suicidal tendencies.
”I believe this constant chess game, battle after battle, the extreme stress, is what caused Julian’s stroke on October 27,” Moris said.
Assange was forced to remain in the prison video room during the Friday hearing despite being excused for feeling unwell by the judge.
“It must have been horrendous hearing a High Court appeal in which you can’t participate, which is discussing your mental health and your risk of suicide and in which the US is arguing you are making it all up,” Moris stated, “He had to sit through all this when he should have been excused. He was in a truly terrible state. His eyes were out of synch, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry.”
Assange has been engaged to Moris for five years and the couple have two sons together, Gabriel, four, and Max, two.
While Moris claims that her fiancé has “more or less” recovered at this point, she fears that the stroke was a sign his larger health is failing.
On Saturday, Moris and the boys visited Assange in prison, who was upset about spending another Christmas away from his family.
“He finds the prospect of a third Christmas in prison difficult,”she shared.
The United States wants Assange to face allegations of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information following the WikiLeaks scandal.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told the Daily Mail they are unable to comment on a single prisoner.
Assange has until December 23 to appeal the extradition judgment. He could potentially be held for many more months, or even years on remand in the UK.
“It remains an outrage that someone who is not serving a prison sentence should be held in prison for years on end. Julian is not a threat to anyone and it is a complete disregard to his individual liberty and our right to a family life,” Moris argued before calling out the U.S., “The US plays dirty every step of the way – it’s a war of attrition. We can see from the fact that he has suffered a mini-stroke this is having a dangerous impact on him.”
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