This article originally appeared on VICE US.
During the seven years Julian Assange spent living in an Ecuadorian embassy, the WikiLeaks founder had a secret pastime: fathering two kids.
Stella Morris, a lawyer who’s helped Assange with his case, revealed this weekend that she is not only engaged to the controversial whistleblower, but has had two sons with him. And she’s now come forward in an effort to convince authorities to release Assange from the notorious Belmarsh prison in London — or else she fears he may get coronavirus.
“Now I have to speak out because I can see that his life is on the brink,” Morris told the Daily Mail in an interview. She has also detailed her history with Assange in court documents. “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.”
Assange has been held in the prison since last year. He’s currently serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail in 2012, when he took refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden over a rape allegation.
But Assange is also facing extradition to the United States, which has charged him with more than a dozen criminal charges in connection to his work with WikiLeaks.
“Mentally, I do not think he will survive further enforced isolation either,” said Morris, adding that Assange is now “effectively in solitary confinement” and spends almost every hour of the day in a cell.
Morris, 37, first met the 48-year-old Assange in 2011, when she was a legal researcher, the Guardian reported. The pair started a relationship in 2015 and got engaged in 2017, according to Morris.
Their sons are now one and two years old, and both boys have visited their father in prison. Back when Assange was still in the embassy, Morris even smuggled one of their children in to visit him by pretending that he was the son of a friend.
Assange’s love life has generated quite a bit of tabloid coverage over the years, as he was long rumored to be dating actress Pamela Anderson. But the Ecuadorian officials who sheltered Assange apparently had no idea he was a new father, according to the Daily Mail.
Still, at one point, Morris said there was a plan to try to use her son’s diapers to steal his DNA and test his paternity.
“I don’t think people understand the extreme situation and pressure that we’ve been under,” Morris said in a video interview. “Because Julian is a public figure, because everything about him is newsworthy, anything can be used against him and has been used against him. And so this was a real dilemma, about having a relationship in these circumstances.”
Cover: Supporters of Julian Assange hold placards as they protest on the second day of a week of opening arguments for the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange outside Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south east London, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)