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Julian Assange's family tirelessly advocate for his freedom

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Julian Assange's father John Shipton with Julian's wife, Stella Moris, on their wedding day (image supplied)

The fight for Julian Assange's freedom goes on in the face of Western intransigence, writes Dr John Jiggens.

FRESH FROM attending the marriage of his son Julian Assange to partner Stella Moris, Assange’s continent-hopping father, John Shipton, will address the Palm Sunday rally in Brisbane on 10 April and attend a Q&A at a preview screening of the film Ithaka.

Produced by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton, Ithaka was directed by multi-award-winning director Ben Lawrence. The yet-to-be-released documentary will be a special thank-you to Julian’s many Queensland supporters. 

Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe, the U.S. and Australia, Ithaka follows John Shipton’s punishing schedule to save his son. 

We witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare, where he is forced to confront the events that made Julian a global flashpoint. 

In marked contrast to the war in Ukraine, the Iraqi war was covered by journalists embedded with the invading forces.

Civilian deaths were dismissed as “collateral damage”.  

When WikiLeaks showed us what “collateral damage” looked like from the perspective of Iraqi civilians, releasing a video of a massacre by an Apache helicopter gun crew of Iraqi civilians and two Reuter journalists, Julian Assange called it Collateral Murder.  

This intervention played an important role in ending the illegal UK, U.S. and Australian invasion of a sovereign nation, and because of this, the war criminals he exposed are destroying Julian Assange with the consent of the Australian Government, claiming he is the criminal.

But Assange was a hero for peace. 

For the Apache helicopter crew, the civilians on the ground were dehumanised. Like boys playing a computer game, they exclaimed “light ‘em up!” as they blew apart their victims from their unseen platform a mile in the sky.  

When a good samaritan stopped to help those still living, he and his children were ruthlessly machine-gunned. The crew blamed their father, saying he shouldn’t have brought children to a war zone.

Ithaka tracks John Shipton’s journey alongside Julian’s then-fiancée, Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian.  

Stella and Julian’s marriage was a rare joyful moment for this embattled family. The mainstream media, of course, presented it as a bizarro celebrity wedding. Knowing which details to ignore, they focussed on the bride and groom’s clothes, rather than the politics. 

We learned that Julian, his brother Gabriel, and Stella and Julian’s two sons, Gabriel and Max, wore tartan kilts in honour of their Scottish heritage.

Vivienne Westwood, a long-time supporter, designed and made Stella a full-length wedding dress, which was adorned with graffiti and one of Westwood’s signature corsets. 

The largest contingent of the wedding party were prison guards and one of them was given the task of being the official photographer. Before saying "I do", Stella was searched multiple times and had to pass through security scanners and sniffer dogs.

She was patted down in her wedding gown and fingerprinted four times. 

Two of the couple’s six guests, U.S. journalist Chris Hedges and Scottish journalist Craig Murray (who was to be one of the witnesses) were denied entry. They stayed outside with 150 supporters.

Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was fired for exposing the CIA black sites and torture centres in that country, was told that he could not enter because he would “endanger the security of the prison"

As Stella admitted:

"It’s not the wedding we would have planned."

She also said:

"But we’re choosing to take control of our lives. We’re doing it for love, for each other, for our sons and because Julian’s life has been put on hold for long enough, robbing him of years with his family."

Belmarsh’s Governor Jenny Louis ordered the couple’s family out of the prison the minute the service was over and Julian was taken back to his cell, knowing he may never get to live with his family. 

As their own bizarro wedding present, the UK Supreme Court dismissed Assange’s appeal against the High Court's decision to allow his extradition to the USA. 

With Julian facing a 175-year sentence if extradited to the U.S., his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the U.S. justice system.

Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.

You can book tickets to the screening of Ithaka in Brisbane here.

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