LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England.  Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website that published US Government secrets, has been wanted in Sweden on charges of rape since 2012.  He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and today police have said he will still face arrest if he leaves.  (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Is Julian Assange a criminal or a champion for transparency? (2019)
03:24 - Source: CNN
London CNN  — 

The partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has revealed the couple had two children while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In a video posted online and shared by WikiLeaks – on the one year anniversary of his arrest – Stella Moris said she and Assange met in 2011 when she was brought onto his legal team.

“I’d been in the embassy almost every single day and got to know Julian very well and in 2015 we got together,” she said. “We fell in love. This is a person that I knew well by then. The person I know the most in the world. He’s extraordinary, he’s generous, and he’s very tender and loving.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy on February 5, 2016 in London, England.

She said they now have two sons – Max and Gabriel. Moris is part of the international legal team working for Assange, she is not involved in the current extradition case.

“Forming a family was a deliberate decision to break down those walls around him… and imagine a life beyond that prison,” she said.

“While for many people it would seem insane to start a family in that context, for us it was the sane thing to do. It was what keeps things real. And it does. It grounds me and when Julian sees the children, it gives him a lot of peace.”

She said falling in love had been “an act of rebellion” and she didn’t think people understood “the extreme situation and pressure” the couple had faced.

Assange, 48, has been held in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London for the past year, after he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy. He had been holed up at the embassy, yards from the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, since 2012, when he was granted asylum as part of a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing allegations of sexual assault. The Swedish case has since been dropped, but Assange feared US extradition due to his work with WikiLeaks and remained in the embassy. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

In a screengrab from a video posted to WikiLeaks' social media, Assange's partner Stella Moris speaks on camera along with the couple's two sons.

Moris said she is struggling to think of how to explain to the children why Assange is in prison and became emotional when describing why she had decided to go public with her identity.

“I have taken so many steps for so many years and I feel like Julian’s life might be coming to an end,” she said. “It’s been 10 years of breaking someone down – trying to destroy his life. It’s a well-known pattern for whistleblowers – people who expose the powerful.”

“Somehow everyone has failed Julian. We have all failed Julian.”

Assange’s legal team had made an application for bail, arguing that the coronavirus epidemic made it unsafe for him to remain in prison. It was rejected. According to Britain’s PA Media, Moris spoke in support of the bail application.

PA reports that the court declined her request for anonymity. However, the judge delayed making the woman’s identity public until 4 p.m. on April 14, pending a possible judicial review at the High Court.

WikiLeaks spokesman Joseph Farrell told CNN on Monday: “Ms. Moris did not take this decision lightly. She has protected her family’s privacy fiercely for many years. She wanted to speak in support of Julian’s bail application given the grave risk to his health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the judge refused her anonymity, forcing her to go public. She is a serious, intelligent and principled person – and a brilliant legal analyst.”

Lawyer Aitor Martínez, a member of Assange’s legal team, told CNN that Moris has worked with their team since the beginning. “She has always been very protective of her privacy, and this is why she is not used to interacting with the press and has not been exposed to it before,” Martínez said.

Assange’s extradition hearing in London is due to continue on May 18.