Julian Assange is denied permission to leave prison to attend close friend and supporter Dame Vivienne Westwood’s funeral, her family say
- Dame Vivienne Westwood was a strong supporter and friend of Julian Assange
- Pair were close friends for more than 10 years and last saw one another in 2019
- Her family said they were ‘deeply disappointed’ that his request was denied
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied permission to leave prison to attend Dame Vivienne Westwood’s funeral, her family has said.
The fashion designer’s family said it was ‘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 he 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.’
Dame Vivienne Westwood was a strong supporter and friend of Mr Assange (pictured at Westminster Magistrates Court in April 2019)
Stella Assange wore a dress designed by Dame Vivienne when she married the 51-year-old at the prison in a small ceremony in March. The fashion designer wrote a message on the inside of the wedding dress that read: ‘To me, Vivienne, Julian is a pure soul and a freedom fighter. All my love to the family, Julian, Stella, Max and Grabriel. May the holy life force bless your marriage.’
After first meeting at Assange’s 40th birthday party, the pair stayed in touch and Dame Vivienne would regularly cycle to visit him at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was given asylum between 2012 and 2019.
The designer dressed as a canary and suspended herself inside a giant birdcage outside the Old Bailey in July 2020 to protest against his extradition.
Weeks before her death she contacted Assange to tell him she was seriously unwell.
A message was left outside Dame Vivienne’s home following her death in December, aged 81
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven into Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019
His wife Stella told The Mail on Sunday: ‘She had reached out to tell Julian and me she was very poorly so her death was not unexpected.
‘It was about a month ago. It was very hard on him as he had not seen her since that prison visit in 2019.’
Mrs Assange continued: ‘What she and Julian shared were uncompromising beliefs. Julian loved her company, she was a lot of fun and a real free thinker.
‘She would be in and out the embassy up to twice a month and her son Ben would come once a week with a box of homemade sushi for Julian too.’
The designer dressed as a canary and suspended herself inside a giant birdcage outside the Old Bailey in July 2020 to protest against his extradition
Mrs Assange wore a dress designed by Dame Vivienne when she married the 51-year-old at the prison in a small ceremony in March.
The fashion designer wrote a message on the inside of the wedding dress that read: ‘To me, Vivienne, Julian is a pure soul and a freedom fighter. All my love to the family, Julian, Stella, Max and Grabriel. May the holy life force bless your marriage.’
The designer’s death prompted the WikiLeaks founder to issue his first public statement since being imprisoned in 2019.
In a comment released by Mrs Assange, he said: ‘Vivienne was a Dame and a pillar of the anti-establishment. Bold, creative, thoughtful and a good friend. The best of Britain. She will be missed terribly by me and many others.’
Dame Vivienne, who was born in Cheshire in 1941, is celebrated for bringing punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream with her imaginative creations.
The US wants to extradite Mr Assange to face allegations of conspiracy to obtain and disclose American defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
He was dragged out of his embassy exile in 2019, arrested, and locked up in Belmarsh where his mental and physical health is known to have deteriorated. He had a mini-stroke in 2021.
A delegation from Wikileaks recently received the support of leaders across Latin America in calls for his release.