Julian Assange denied permission to attend Vivienne Westwood funeral

Westwood’s family say they are ‘deeply disappointed’ WikiLeaks founder was not given temporary release from prison

Julian Assange has been denied permission to leave prison to attend the funeral of Dame Vivienne Westwood, according to her family.

Westwood’s family said they were “deeply disappointed that we were unable to fulfil Vivienne’s wishes but are unsurprised by the decision, which is unjust and in keeping with the inhumane treatment [Assange] has received from the UK authorities up to this point”.

They added: “Julian has not been convicted of any crime, yet he is treated as if he is a terrorist, the only thing he is guilty of is publishing the truth.”

Westwood, a pioneering fashion designer and activist who played a key role in the punk movement, was a prominent supporter of the WikiLeaks founder. She died “peacefully, surrounded by her family” in Clapham, south London, on 29 December.

Assange is being held in Belmarsh prison in London as he continues a lengthy fight to avoid extradition to the US to face charges in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables.

Stella Assange, who married her husband last year, described Westwood as “a rebel at heart” after her death and said the dress given to her by the designer for the wedding inside Belmarsh prison had taken the event “to the next level”.

Westwood, who had actively supported a range of political causes until her death last month, had suspended herself in a birdcage in 2020 to protest against US attempts to extradite Assange from the UK.

“It is not a crime to publish the truth,” Westwood said at the time, as she warned that US attempts to extradite Assange amounted to a threat to all other journalists.

Stella Assange arrived at the jail last March wearing a floor-length corseted lilac dress designed by Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler, and an elaborate veil embroidered with messages from friends.

She said: “We are grateful to Vivienne’s family for their efforts to inform the prison of Vivienne’s wishes that Julian attend her funeral. Vivienne was courageous and called out the persecution of Julian from the start. We are disappointed at the refusal although cognisant that it is further proof that whatever the formal pretext, Julian’s indefinite, cruel and arbitrary imprisonment is punishing him for his political opinions.”


Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

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