Julian Assange secretly fathered two children while living inside the Ecuadorian embassy, his partner has revealed, as she pleaded for his release from prison over fears he could die from coronavirus.
Stella Morris said she has been engaged to the WikiLeaks founder since 2017 and has been raising their sons, two-year-old Gabriel and one-year-old Max, on her own.
The South African-born lawyer told The Mail on Sunday she was speaking out for the first time because Assange’s “life is on the brink” and she does not believe he would “survive infection with coronavirus” should he contract the disease.
Since being dragged out of the embassy in London a year ago, Assange has been held in the capital’s high-security Belmarsh prison, where an inmate with COVID-19 recently died.
He is awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the US, where he is wanted for 18 charges of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage.
Ms Morris said her 48-year-old fiance was “effectively in solitary confinement” as he is in isolation in prison for 23 hours a day and all visits have stopped.
She told The Mail on Sunday: “I have lived quietly and privately, raising Gabriel and Max on my own and longing for the day we could be together as a family.
“Now I have to speak out because I can see that his life is on the brink.
“Julian’s poor physical health puts him at serious risk, like many other vulnerable people, and I don’t believe he will survive infection with coronavirus.”
In a statement supporting an application for bail, Ms Morris said she met Assange in 2011 when she was a legal researcher.
“Over time Julian and I developed a strong intellectual and emotional bond. He became my best friend and I become his,” she wrote.
Their friendship developed and despite the “extraordinary circumstances”, a close relationship began in 2015, she said.
It is understood the couple managed to keep their relationship and the birth of their children secret from Ecuadorian diplomats and officials, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The newspaper reported that Assange watched both children being born in London hospitals via video link and he met Gabriel when he was smuggled into the embassy.
Both boys, who are British citizens, have visited their father in prison, The Mail on Sunday said.
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Assange’s extradition hearing is fixed for 18 May after a court rejected calls for an adjournment until September.
His legal team had said there were “insuperable” difficulties preparing his case because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assange claimed political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 and was arrested after nearly seven years inside the building in April 2019.