Julian Assange Home! And Free!

In moving scenes yesterday we finally saw Julian Assange step off a plane onto Australian soil.

His joy was visible as his wife Stella rushed into his arms and Julian lifted her off the ground in an embrace before they kissed. He also embraced his father. It brought tears to my eyes to see all this happen because, as Stella told the press a little later, ‘I finally got to embrace my husband as a free man.’ I’ve been following Stella’s X account for the past few days watching every step of Julian’s journey to liberty. None of us, not even Stella according to her posts, could breathe easily until he had left US territory and was back in his own country with his loved ones.

Earlier he had arrived at the courthouse in Saipan, the US island outpost deemed suitable for the proceedings and, as his lawyer confirmed, pled guilty to only one charge – the ‘crime’ of journalism, in that he accepted and published on Wikileaks the classified files that revealed US war crimes and which, the judge stated, ‘did not result in any known physical injury.’ Judge Manglona also acknowledged that Julian had ‘served a period of imprisonment… in apparently one of the harshest facilities in the United Kingdom’ before finishing with this poignant statement:

‘With this pronouncement it appears you will be able to walk out of this courtroom a free man. I hope there will be some peace restored.”

If I wasn’t in tears before that I was now. One can’t help, upon hearing it, thinking of the 14 year ordeal Julian has endured, firstly under house arrest, then inside the Ecuadorian embassy, then in Belmarsh prison where, for the past three and a half years, he has been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day! We cannot even imagine what this heroic man has been through; what kind of inner strength has kept him alive and sane when most of us would have crumbled long ago. There is no doubt Julian is a man of exceptional courage and fortitude, all underpinned by his unmatched integrity.

The state wanted him to die, we know this. They threw everything at him but he emerged intact. Inspiring is not an adequate word to describe Julian Assange. Now, as Stella said yesterday, he needs time to be with his family before making any public statement. No-one deserves peace more than he.

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