Father, awaiting Julian Assange’s arrival in Australia, says he never gave up

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
6 min read

Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, could breathe a massive sigh of relief on Wednesday after a decade-long campaign to free his son.

The WikiLeaks founder on Wednesday was released by a court on the US Pacific island territory of Saipan after pleading guilty to violating US espionage law.

Assange’s family, including his father, children and wife, Stella, gathered in Australia’s capital Canberra ahead of his expected evening arrival by private jet, marking the end of a long legal fight tied to WikiLeaks’ release of hundreds of thousands of classified US defense documents in 2010.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Shipton said he planned to ask his son in a low-key Australian way when he arrives: “Where have you been?”

“My faith has never, ever, ever died,” he told Reuters in an interview at parliament.

“That Julian can come home to Australia and see his family regularly and do the ordinary things of life is a treasure. Life measured amongst the beauty of the ordinary is the essence of life,” Shipton said.

He said he was “divided in two” on the deal that saw Assange plead guilty to one charge of espionage, saying his release meant he would have precious time with his sons.

He was nonetheless concerned about the “political and legal circumstances surrounding it”.

“I think it is going to be a problem for journalists and publishers anywhere in the world to publish criticism of the United States government,” he said.

Assange’s release was cause for celebration in Canberra, where politicians who had campaigned for Assange gathered around Shipton in a hall outside the parliament chamber.

“We want to give you a hug,” said lawmaker Sophie Scamps.

Assange will need time to recover from his “monastic life” in self-exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years, and then prison for five years, Shipton said.

He looked forward to being involved in his son’s “practical everyday human life, not the sweep of politics.”

“The American secret service in 2011 published their review saying we must hound him and his family to the end of the earth and bankrupt them. Its been expensive but I’ve got no complaints – the results are there for everyone to see,” he said.

He said the Australian government had been “nothing short of magnificent.”

Assange has previously said he got his “rebel gene” from his father. Shipton said he considers his son to be personally conservative and polite.

“It is his understanding of the capacity of the internet to bring to us information that can be the foundation of knowledge that is revolutionary,” he said.

“He is only 52 I imagine he will find something to do. He will be 53 next week. The momentum he has got ... he will conjure forth those things that he can do.”

Shipton said the family had devoted the last decade to doing everything in its capacity to see Assange free.

“We Australians managed to turn around a superpower in its attempt to destroy an Australian citizen,” he said.

Shipton learned of the plea deal from his son Gabriel.

Gabriel told Reuters on Wednesday he was “feeling extremely relieved that this ordeal is finally over and that Julian can move on with his life.”

Read more:

Australian PM says ‘very pleased’ by end to Assange ‘saga’

WikiLeaks founder Assange banned from entering US without permission

WikiLeaks Julian Assange pleads guilty in US court, secures freedom

Top Content Trending