Julian Assange secretly became engaged and fathered two children all while in hiding in a London embassy, it has been revealed.
On Sunday, the WikiLeaks founder’s fiancee outed herself as she expressed fears the Australian’s life may be “coming to an end” at Belmarsh Prison.
“It’s been … 10 years of breaking someone down, of trying to destroy his life,” Stella Moris-Smith Robertson said.
Ms Moris-Smith Robertson showed off photographs and videos of the couple’s sons Max and Gabriel as she issued a teary plea for the UK to bail her 48-year-old partner, one year after he was taken into custody.
The trained lawyer, who said she spoke fluent Swedish, explained that she met Assange in 2011 when she was a legal researcher looking into Sweden’s legal theory to help in his rape case.
The pair formed a close friendship that by 2015 developed into a romance.
“Falling in love is kind of an act of rebellion in a context where there’s a lot of attempts to destroy your life,” she said.
“I compare it to being in a war zone … constant, relentless attacks.”
WATCH: Julian Assange's newly revealed partner, and mother of their 2 young children, speaks for the first time: Urges UK government to bail her vulnerable fiance amid #coronavirus fears#FreePress#DontExtraditeAssange #COVID19 https://t.co/Uy6Kbsj55K
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2020
Having children brought Assange “peace”, Ms Moris-Smith Robertson said.
He already has an adult son, named Daniel, to a previous relationship.
There have for years been rumours circulating that Assange has fathered multiple other children.
In his book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg wrote that Assange would “boast” about how many children he had fathered.
“He seemed to enjoy the idea of lots and lots of Julians, one on every continent. Whether he took care of any of these alleged children, or whether they existed at all, was another question,” Mr Domscheit-Berg claimed.
Ms Moris-Smith Robertson said the couple had planned to have a family as a way for Assange “to break down those walls around him … and imagine a life beyond that prison (the Ecuadorian embassy)”.
“And so while for many people it would seem insane to start a family in that context, for us it was the sane thing to do,” she said in the video.
The couple has managed to keep secret the relationship and the existence of the whistleblower’s newest children, aged one and three, despite the intense media scrutiny surrounding Assange.
But Ms Moris-Smith Robertson said she now wanted to make a public statement because their lives were “on the brink” and she feared Assange could die.
Assange has been held in prison in London since he was dragged out of the embassy a year ago, and is awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the United States, where he is wanted for questioning.
From the window of a prison van, Assange was initially putting on a show of strength, holding up a fist to the waiting media in vision broadcast around the world.
But behind the scenes his health has quickly been deteriorating.
In February, independent MP Andrew Wilkie told The New Daily after visiting the Australian in London: “From time to time you’d get a glimpse at a broken man.
“He was doing his best to put on a brave face, but I think it was theatre because every now and then he’d sink into quietness – he’d look down and close his eyes.
“Particularly when we were touching on things like his family, you could see he was really struggling.”
Friends have recently expressed fears the coronavirus spreading through Belmarsh is threatening Assange’s life – on top of his delicate mental state.
One prisoner has died, and a number of prison officers are off sick, suspected of having the virus, according to his friends.
Ms Moris-Smith Robertson said her fiance is in isolation for 23 hours a day and can’t have visitors.
As well as releasing a video, Ms Moris-Smith Robertson has written a statement to the courts supporting an application for Assange to be bailed.
The extradition hearing is fixed for May 18 after a court rejected calls for an adjournment until September when his legal team said there were “insuperable” difficulties preparing his case because of the COVID-19 pandemic.