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Julian Assange's homecoming: inside his new safe haven in Australia

The WikiLeaks founder shares two young children with wife Stella Assange

Faye James
Senior Editor
June 28, 2024
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WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange was released from Belmarsh Prison this week and touched down in Canberra, Australia, to the delight of his family and wife, Stella Assange.

 Stella took to X to celebrate her husband's return, posting a picture of their passionate kiss on the tarmac after Julian landed in Australia, and sweetly captioned it "Home." In a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday, she revealed that she was "overcome with emotion" when she saw her husband back on home soil.

 "I think the whole world celebrated with us," she said of their reunion. "It was us meeting on the tarmac, but it was the entire world who was celebrating."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange kisses his wife Stella Assange as he arrives at Canberra Airport © Roni Bintang
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange kisses his wife Stella Assange as he arrives at Canberra Airport

The pair met when Julian's legal team hired the Swedish-Spanish lawyer in 2011, and she became instrumental in advocating for her husband's release. She even met with Pope Francis in 2023 to discuss her husband's case and imprisonment.

 They began dating in 2015, when Julian was living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after claiming asylum due to sexual assault charges he was facing in Sweden at the time. They conceived two kids during his imprisonment, who were born in 2017 and 2019, and married at Belmarsh Prison in March 2022.

Julian Assange gestures as he arrives at Canberra Airport © Roni Bintang
Julian Assange gestures as he arrives at Canberra Airport

 At the press conference, Stella spoke on behalf of her husband and asked for some time "to let our family be a family."

 "Julian wanted me to sincerely thank everyone," she added. "He wanted to be here, but you have to understand what he's been through -- he needs time, he needs to recuperate, and this is a process."

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, returned to his native Australia as a free man© Roni Bintang
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, returned to his native Australia as a free man

 Stella was visibly emotional at the press conference but powered through to show her gratitude for the efforts of Assange supporters. "It took millions of people," she said as the crowd applauded. "It took people working behind the scenes, people protesting on the streets for days and weeks and months and years, and we achieved it."

 The mother of two mused that the situation was "quite unique, that it got people together from all sides, to work towards Julian's freedom and to keep it at the top of the agenda for years now."

 When asked how Julian would spend his time now that he was back in his home country, Stella revealed how important his freedom really was to him. "He is just savoring freedom for the first time in 14 years. Julian plans to swim in the ocean every day. He plans to sleep in a real bed, he plans to taste real food, and he plans to enjoy his freedom."

Julian's new life in Australia will include ocean swims, good food and a real bed© DAVID GRAY
Julian's new life in Australia will include ocean swims, good food and a real bed

 Julian spent the last five years in prison; before that, he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. After over a decade in isolation, the father of two looked forward to reuniting with his young children. "They were very excited when they found out that daddy was coming home," Stella told the press. "I had to tell them gradually. So they were very, very excited."

 Julian leaked highly sensitive US documents in 2010 exposing information about the country's role in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, which was the largest classified information breach in American history. As a result, he was convicted of espionage, but public outrage grew over the lack of whistleblower protections for Julian.

 Speaking at the press conference, Stella addressed this outrage, saying, "I think it revealed how uncomfortable the US government is in having these arguments aired because the fact is that this case is an attack on journalism, it's an attack on the public's right to know, and it should never have been brought."

 "Julian should never have spent a single day in prison. But today we celebrate because today, Julian is free," she smiled. 

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