Wikileaks founder Julian Assange plans to marry the mother of his two children inside HMP Belmarsh, it emerged today.
The Australian activist, who turns 50 this week, has spent more than two years inside the maximum security prison as he awaits possible extradition to the US for releasing confidential military records.
Mr Assange started a secret relationship with South African lawyer Stella Moris, 38, while confined to the Ecuadorian embassy, fathering two sons, Gabriel, four, and Max, two, while claiming political asylum to avoid deportation.
The Australian activist, who turns 50 this week, has spent more than two years inside Belmarsh
Mr Assange started a secret relationship with South African lawyer Stella Moris, 38, while at the Ecuadorian embassy (she is seen with their two sons, Gabriel, four, (left) and Max, two
The pair got engaged in 2016, and Ms Moris has now revealed they want to get married as soon as possible rather than waiting for the legal proceedings to go on any longer.
‘The most likely thing is that we’ll get married in the prison and then we’ll have another kind of wedding celebration with friends and family once once he’s free’, she told news agency DPA.
‘We have spoken to the Belmarsh chaplain services about it and they said they haven’t seen a wedding in Belmarsh for as long as they’ve been there, which is 12 years. So it’s not a straightforward thing to do.’
Ms Moris is urging US President Joe Biden to let her fiance go free to show that the country is a ‘beacon of press freedom’.
Washington has sought the extradition of Mr Assange over his role in one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information, accusing him of putting lives in danger by releasing vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.
He has now spent nine years in jail or self-incarceration in Britain, and both Ms Moris and the British judge overseeing the extradition request have warned he may not survive a process to send him across the Atlantic.
Ms Moris said she wanted to get married inside Belmarsh (pictured) rather than waiting any longer
‘If Biden really wants to break with the Trump legacy, then he has to drop the case,’ Ms Moris said. ‘They can’t maintain this prosecution against Julian while saying that they defend a global press freedom.’
When Barack Obama served as president and Mr Biden was his vice president, the US decided not to seek Mr Assange’s extradition on the grounds that what WikiLeaks did was similar to journalistic activities protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Weeks after taking office Trump administration officials stepped up public criticism of Mr Assange and later filed a series of criminal charges accusing him of participating in a hacking conspiracy.
The US Justice Department said in February it planned to continue to seek the extradition for Mr Assange to face hacking conspiracy charges.
Ms Moris said the couple were planning to marry soon at the top-security Belmarsh prison where he is being held.
Ms Moris said she had spoken to the chaplain service at the prison (pictured is the chapel)
US prosecutors and Western security officials regard Mr Assange as a reckless enemy of the state whose actions threatened the lives of agents named in the leaked material.
Supporters pit him as an anti-establishment hero who exposed US wrongdoing in Afghanistan and Iraq and say his prosecution is a politically-motivated assault on journalism that gives a free pass to oppressive regimes around the world.
WikiLeaks came to prominence when it published a US military video in 2010 showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
Ms Moris is urging US President Joe Biden to let her fiance go free to show that the country is a ‘beacon of press freedom’
An effort to extradite him was launched in 2019 after he was detained in London after taking refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in the British capital for seven years to avoid being extradited to Sweden.
British judge Vanessa Baraitser said in January that although she accepted the US legal arguments in the case, she said Mr Assange’s mental health issues meant he would be at risk of suicide if extradited, leading to her rejecting the request.
Ms Moris said the 49-year-old was very low but still fighting. She likened his treatment as akin to the way some journalists are treated in China and Saudi Arabia.
‘I think there’s no doubt that Julian wouldn’t survive an extradition,’ she said.
She argued that any robust democracy had to accommodate internal dissent. ‘A superpower that has a free press is very different in nature from one that does not.’
She said she is hopeful that the case will be viewed differently under a Biden administration, but refused to say if his legal team had held talks with US officials.
The lawyer said she is hopeful that the case will be viewed differently under a Biden administration, but refused to say if his legal team had held talks with US officials
Despite that hope, she said the couple were planning to marry soon inside Belmarsh, once the paperwork is done, rather than wait to hear his fate.
She said Mr Assange had been given a huge lift recently when she was allowed to take their two sons to visit, allowing him to touch his children for the first time in over a year.
‘He was happy to see us, but he’s struggling,’ she said. ‘He’s very low but he’s fighting. He has the hope that this will end soon.’