UPDATE: 11. April 2020: Exactly one year ago Julian Assange was abducted from the Ecudorian embassy in London and has in the meantime served more than the exaggerated sentence of 50 weeks for skipping bail in a fake case, which was in the meantime withdrawn by Sweden. BUT HE IS STILL HELD ILLEGALLY! Shame on the UK!
UPDATE 10. April 2020: Julian Assange's fiancée and mother of his two sons, the lawyer Stella Morris, speaks out.
10 Years of Collateral Murder
By DJV - 03. April 2020
The German Journalists' Association recalls the release of the shocking video "Collateral Murder", with which the Wikileaks disclosure platform awakened the public worldwide on 5 April 2010.
The video shows the killing of 12 civilians by the U.S. army in a suburb of Baghdad, including two Reuters correspondents.
"Collateral Murder is an outstanding film document in contemporary history that has exposed the lies of U.S. officials about the Iraq war," says DJV Federal Chairman Frank Überall. "It was also shocking to see the two Reuters colleagues die because soldiers couldn't distinguish a camera from a rifle," he said.
The DJV chairman associates the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the publication with the demand that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange be released immediately: "The trial in the UK continues, so does Julian's imprisonment." There is no reason why the investigative journalist would have to continue to accept significant health and psychological impairments.
Deutscher Journalisten-Verband e.V. (DJV)
Torstr. 49, 10119 Berlin
The gunsight video-cum-audio showing the cold-blooded killing of at least 12 Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by gunners in a U.S. Apache helicopter on July 12, 2007 during the “surge” of U.S. forces into the Baghdad area. This needs to accompany any story on WikiLeaks’ revelations; whether or not it is given much play at the hearings in the days ahead. Watching this 18-minute video will provide some idea as to why Private Chelsea Manning was moved to give it to WikiLeaks.
Everyone should watch this video to get some sense of the kind of U.S. war crimes WikiLeaks exposed — accurately, with original footage — and to understand why Establishment Washington got so angry at Assange and remains hell bent on making an example of him.
Chelsea Manning was released from U.S. prison on 12. March 2020 as ruled by U.S. Federal Judge Anthony Trenga, who presided over the Federal Grand Jury.
Julian Assange still rots in Her Majesty's Belmarsh Prison (HMBP) in the UK pending extradition hearings instigated by the USA and unjustly upheld by the USA and the UK.
The UN ruling made it crystal clear that the detention of journalist and publisher Julian Assange by the United Kingdom is illegal and amounts to internationally outlawed torture.
FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW !
Julian Assange: 10 Jahre Collateral Murder
(Berlin) - Der Deutsche Journalisten-Verband erinnert an die Veröffentlichung des Schock-Videos "Collateral Murder", mit dem die Enthüllungsplattform Wikileaks am 5. April 2010 die Weltöffentlichkeit wach rüttelte.
Das Video zeigt die Tötung von 12 Zivilisten durch die US-Armee in einem Vorort von Bagdad, darunter zwei Reuters-Korrespondenten. ",Collateral Murder' ist ein herausragendes Filmdokument der Zeitgeschichte, das die Lügen der offiziellen Stellen in den USA über den Irak-Krieg offen gelegt hat", sagt DJV-Bundesvorsitzender Frank Überall. "Es war zugleich erschütternd zu sehen, wie die beiden Kollegen von Reuters zu Tode kamen, weil Soldaten eine Kamera nicht von einem Gewehr unterscheiden konnten."
Die Erinnerung an den 10. Jahrestag der Veröffentlichung verbindet der DJV-Vorsitzende mit der Forderung, Wikileaks-Gründer Julian Assange sofort auf freien Fuß zu setzen: "Das Gerichtsverfahren in Großbritannien dauert an, Julians Haft auch." Es gebe keinen Grund, warum der Enthüllungsjournalist weiterhin erhebliche gesundheitliche und psychische Beeinträchtigungen in Kauf nehmen müsse.
Quelle und Kontaktadresse:
Deutscher Journalisten-Verband e.V. (DJV)
Torstr. 49, 10119 Berlin
Telefon: (030) 7262792-0, Fax: (030) 7262792-13
JULIAN ASSANGE HAS BEEN DETAINED AT BELMARSH PRISON FOR ONE YEAR
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange is expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrested by British police. Screenshot of Ruptly coverage.
By KEVIN GOSZTOLA - 10. April 2020
It has been one year since the United States government, with the support of the governments of Ecuador, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, dramatically escalated their political prosecution against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On April 11, 2019, Assange was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in the U.K. British police arrested him and charged him with violating bail conditions when he sought asylum in 2012, but the arrest was also connected to an indictment and extradition request filed by the U.S. government.
Video showed police carrying the body of a long-haired and bearded Assange, who was in clear distress. He begged the UK to resist President Donald Trump’s administration as officers loaded him into a van.
Assange was taken to Her Majesty’s Belmarsh Prison, where he served a 50-week sentence for the bail charge imposed against him. He remains in jail, despite his deteriorating health, the way it inhibits his ability to work with his legal team on his extradition case, and the reality that the global coronavirus pandemic threatens the lives of every incarcerated or jailed person.
Vaughan Smith, a friend who allowed Assange to live with him under house arrest in 2010, wrote on April 9 that Assange is “confined alone in a cell 23 and a half hours every day. He gets half an hour of exercise and that is in a yard crowded with other prisoners. With over 150 Belmarsh prison staff off work self-isolating, the prison is barely functioning.”
“We know of two COVID-19 deaths in Belmarsh so far, though the [Ministry] of Justice have admitted to only one death. Julian told me that there have been more and that the virus is ripping through the prison,” Smith added.
On March 25, British Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied Assange bail, despite widespread calls for the release of detainees and prisoners to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Assange’s legal team asked Baraitser to postpone a three-week extradition hearing scheduled for May 18. Baraitser refused to move the date.
According to Smith, “[Assange] is convinced this is happening to disadvantage him legally. Unable to meet with his lawyers, he cannot prepare his defense properly.”
In 2017, Lenín Moreno was elected president of Ecuador. His government has advanced conservative policies that include establishing closer ties with the U.S. government, and following his election, a pressure campaign was waged against Assange in order to coerce him into leaving the embassy.
“Between March 2018 and April 2019,” as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer summarized, “The progressively severe harassment of Mr. Assange by the Ecuadorian authorities reportedly culminated in a situation marked by excessive regulation, restriction and surveillance of Mr. Assange’s communications, meetings with external visitors (including lawyers and medical doctors) and his private life; by various degrees of harassment by security guards and certain diplomatic staff; and by the public dissemination of distorted half-truths, defamations and deliberately debasing statements, including by the state leadership.”
In March 2019, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $4.2 billion financing deal to support the Ecuador government over the next three years. Authorities subsequently “suspended” Assange’s citizenship and ended his asylum, without much notice, on April 11.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who provided over a half million documents to WikiLeaks that exposed war crimes and diplomatic corruption, was subpoenaed that same month to testify before a grand jury empaneled by the Justice Department. She refused to testify and was held in contempt in a jail in Alexandria, Virginia.
Following his arrest, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment that charged him with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” It involved an allegation that Assange tried to help Manning crack a password so she could search the military’s secret information networks anonymously.
Mathew Ingram at the Columbia Journalism Review wrote, “The fact that Assange wasn’t charged under the Espionage Act for receiving or publishing classified documents, some argue, means the indictment isn’t as much of a threat to journalism.”
However, as Ingram highlighted, an affidavit against Assange described the core of the government’s case. “Much of it, Gosztola argues, appears to be an attempt to criminalize a wide range of standard practices engaged in by investigative journalists.”
(Note: Shadowproof was one of the few media outlets to emphasize the computer crime charge included language from the Espionage Act, which was a major warning sign.)
Manning was released from jail on May 9, when the grand jury’s term elapsed. The government immediately reconvened the grand jury and subpoenaed Manning. Again, she refused to comply with the subpoena and faced worse punishment. A federal judge punished her with fines—$500 per day after 30 days and then $1000 per day after 60 days.
On May 23, Assange was charged with seventeen violations of the Espionage Act. It explicitly criminalized the publication of information and sought to impose U.S. secrecy law against a non-U.S. publisher.
Ben Wizner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, reacted, “For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism and a direct assault on the First Amendment.”
Spanish newspaper EL PAÍS reported on July 9 that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was spied on by a Spanish private defense and security firm called Undercover Global S.L., when he lived in the Ecuador embassy.
The report was based on “documents, video, and audio material” that was “used in an extortion attempt against Assange by several individuals.” In May, Spanish police arrestedjournalist José Martín Santos, who had a record of fraud, and a computer programmer for their alleged involvement in an “attempt to make €3 million from the sale of private material.”
Journalists for EL PAÍS found the spying on Assange’s legal defense meetings to be most significant. They were stunned by the fact that Assange held meetings in the women’s bathroom if he wanted to ensure privacy. And they took note of U.C. Global’s “feverish, obsessive vigilance” toward Assange (“the guest”), which became more intense after Moreno was elected.
The Justice Department subpoenaed Jeremy Hammond, who was months away from completing a federal prison sentence related to his role in the leak of files from a now-defunct private firm known as Stratfor, which WikiLeaks published in 2012. He joined Manning in resisting the grand jury and was held in contempt.
Further revelations on the espionage operation against Assange came in October, when EL PAÍS reported the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was apparently involved in compiling reports on journalists, attorneys, doctors, and any Russians or Americans, who visited Assange.
U.C. Global operated a security checkpoint. When visitors entered, they were instructed to “hand over their bags, computers, electronic devices, and cellphones.”
Employees of the company put together a report that could be shared with the CIA via a server in Jerez de la Frontera. Reports contained the date of the meeting, a copy of the visitor’s passport, the content of their conversation, and video from the meeting. (The FBI allegedly had access to files too.)
The company took apart and photographed cellphones. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, the co-founder of The Intercept, had photos taken of his cellphone as well as Russian visas in his passport, which he obtained to visit NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Greenwald told Shadowproof, “Affiliates of the U.S. government, including the CIA and FBI, were effectively spying on their own citizens, including me, through an elaborate fraud in which visitors to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London who visited Julian Assange were lied to, told they had to give their passport for identification purposes and their cellphone for security purposes when, in reality, those items were seized so they could be photographed and put on a server, which both the CIA and FBI could access.”
What EL PAÍS exposed constituted “an illegal and unconstitutional search” of his personal property by the U.S. government, Greenwald added.
The Swedish prosecution authority again re-opened a “preliminary investigation” into sexual allegations against Assange after he was expelled from the embassy in April. But by November the effort to revive the case a third time, without any new information, fell apart.
Assange was detained in conditions of solitary confinement until January 2020, when he was moved from the medical wing of Belmarsh to a wing with 40 other inmates because his legal team and inmates at the facility convinced the prison governor to transfer him.
A one-week extradition hearing in February offered a wider glimpse into the U.S. government’s political case against Assange. James Lewis, the Crown Prosecution Authority attorney tasked with securing extradition for the U.S. government, showed how frustrated he was by Manning’s resistance to the grand jury.
Lewis also made it clear that he does not think Assange should be protected by a U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty that provides some protection for those charged with political offenses.
Assange’s legal team outlined several details related to Trump’s politicization of the Justice Department, as well as U.C. Global’s espionage operation.
The hearing concluded with an episode that brought attention to the magistrate court judge’s contempt for Assange. His legal team asked the judge to allow him to leave a glass box at the back of the courtroom so he could hear proceedings and participate in his legal defense. Lewis informed the court the prosecution was “neutral” on the matter, yet Baraitser denied the request.
Days before much of the United State shut down to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks was dismissed. Manning was set free, yet ordered to pay a $256,000 fine. Hammond was transferred to complete his sentence.
Assange’s legal team have feared for his survival ever since he was confined at Belmarsh, but the coronavirus represents a new threat to his life.
More than 60 medical doctors have condemned the “torture and medical neglect of Assange” and urged the Australian government to intervene in order to protect the health of one of their citizens.
Over 1200 journalists from 98 countries have united to protest the “gross miscarriage of justice” that is unfolding.
Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who was targeted by the CIA-backed espionage operation, believes only public pressure will save Assange.
“What I have seen in this case is completely unacceptable, completely incompatible with freedom of the press in our democratic societies,” Maurizi declared.
Maurizi contends if the U.S. succeeds in putting Assange on trial, the “whole WikiLeaks team of journalists,” including Sarah Harrison, who helped Snowden get asylum in Russia, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, and Joseph Farrell, a WikiLeaks ambassador, will be next.
KEVIN GOSZTOLA is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."
Julian Assange’s fiancée speaks out for the first time
Julian Assange’s fiancée (and children) revealed for the first time
•Apr 11, 2020
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange fathered two children with lawyer Stella Morris in Ecuador’s UK embassy
- Lawyer Stella Morris said she and Assange have been in a relationship since 2015 and have two children
- Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in London since he left the Ecuadorean embassy a year ago
By Agence France-Presse -
Julian Assange is reportedly the father of two boys – aged two and one – born to South African-born Stella Morris. Photo: WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange fathered two children with one of his lawyers while holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London for much of the past decade, a report on Sunday said.
The 48-year-old Australian is allegedly the dad of two boys – aged two and one – born to South African-born lawyer Stella Morris, The Mail on Sunday reported.
The newspaper published the report alongside photographs of Assange with the toddlers and an interview with Morris who said they “fell in love” and were planning to marry.
The couple have been engaged since 2017, according to the paper, which said it learned about the revelations in court papers seen last week.
Assange is being held in London’s high security Belmarsh prison as he fights an extradition request by the United States to stand trial there on espionage charges.
The embassy of Ecuador in London. File photo: AFP
The Mail on Sunday said Morris chose to reveal their relationship and the existence of their sons because “she fears Assange’s life is at serious risk if he remains in Belmarsh”, due to the spread of coronavirus.
Morris wants the one-time hacker released under British government plans to allow some prisoners temporary release, amid fears Covid-19 could sweep through jails.
But Assange last month failed in a bail bid based on his risk of catching the virus, with a British judge saying there were “no grounds” for his release.
Assange’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
WikiLeaks responded to the report on Twitter.
“Julian Assange’s newly revealed partner, mother of their 2 young children, urges UK government to bail him and other vulnerable prisoners as #coronavirus sweeps prisons,” it said.
The whistle-blowing organisation posted its own video interview with Morris soon after, in which she detailed her purported five-year relationship with Assange.
Assange faces charges under the US Espionage Act for the 2010 release of a trove of secret files detailing aspects of US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He ensconced himself in the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 after skipping bail to avoid separate legal proceedings in Sweden, but was finally dragged out last year.
He reportedly conceived the first child with Morris in 2016, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The couple had begun a relationship the previous year while the lawyer visited him to work on his legal situation, it said.
Belmarsh prison, where Julian Assange is being held. Photo: AFP
Assange watched the birth of both children in London hospitals via live video-link and met the elder boy, named Gabriel, after he was smuggled into the embassy, the paper added.
Both boys are said to be British citizens and have reportedly visited their father in prison.
Morris told The Mail on Sunday: “I love Julian deeply and I am looking forward to marrying him.
“Julian has been fiercely protective of me and has done his best to shield me from the nightmares of his life.”
She said she had lived “quietly and privately”, raising Gabriel and his brother Max, while “longing for the day we could be together as a family”.
Morris added: “Now I have to speak out because I can see that his life is on the brink.”
By Sarah Oliver - 12. April 2020
Julian Assange secretly fathered two sons while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Pictured: The WikiLeaks founder with his first son with Ms Morris, Gabriel
The revelation about his secret family emerged last week in court papers. Pictured: Miss Morris first son with Julian Assange, Gabriel, now aged two
South African-born lawyer Stella Morris (right) fell in love with the WikiLeaks founder five years ago while visiting him to work on a legal bid to halt the extraditions. The couple have been engaged since 2017
The news will come as a bombshell to Assange's friends and enemies since he was widely understood to have led a near-monastic life since entering the embassy in 2012. Pictured: The couple's second son Max, aged one.
Miss Morris is revealing their long-term relationship and the existence of their sons because she fears Assange's life is at serious risk if he remains in Belmarsh, where one inmate has already died of Covid-19
Miss Morris had an international upbringing with her theatre director mother and urban planner father
The family spent time in Sweden meaning she was a fluent Swedish speaker, able to help defend Assange against the allegations, which were rescinded last year
Miss Morris became a member of Assange's inner circle in the embassy, officially changing her name from Sara Gonzalez Devant to Stella Morris so she could maintain a lower profile while researching and drafting legal documents for WikiLeaks. Pictured: Gabriel playing with toys
Miss Morris said she wants 'her boys' to 'have their father back'
The US wants him in court to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion
Miss Morris feared the American security agencies watching Assange would be suspicious of her pregnancy and newborn Gabriel
She tried to disguise her bump in billowing clothes and then, when Gabriel was born, he was carried in and out of the embassy in the arms of a friend who passed the child off as his own
Miss Morris brought baby Gabriel to see his father at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Pictured: Assange in the embassy with Gabriel as a baby - Despite the secret spying by the Ecudoian embassy on Julian Assange the "child of a friend" passed the surveillance.
Assange did not meet his newest son until May when Miss Morris was allowed into Belmarsh with both boys
By then intimate footage of Max's birth, shot on a GoPro camera by a friend, had been seized by the US along with Assange's legal documents from his quarters inside the embassy. Pictured: Assange in a prison van as he leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in January - means his USAmerican tormetors knew it all the way along.
Julian Assange secretly fathered two sons while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Gabriel, aged two, and his one-year-old brother Max were conceived while their father was hiding out to avoid extradition to America, where he faces espionage charges over the leaking of thousands of classified US intelligence documents.
At the time, Assange, 48, was also wanted in Sweden where he was accused of rape. He has always denied the sex allegations, which have now been dropped.
The boys' mother is 37-year-old South African-born lawyer Stella Morris, who fell in love with the controversial WikiLeaks founder five years ago while visiting him to work on a legal bid to halt the extraditions.
The couple have been engaged since 2017.
At present Miss Morris, like all family members of prisoners, is banned from visiting because of Covid-19.
© Provided by
Mr Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in 2015 - Daily Mail
At the time that Gabriel was conceived in 2016, Assange had been inside the embassy, close to Harrods, for four years and was believed to be under constant surveillance by American security services.
However, a round-the-clock policing operation by Scotland Yard had been withdrawn following a public backlash over the spiralling £13.2 million cost.
It is understood the couple also managed to keep their relationship and the birth of their children secret from Ecuadorian diplomats and officials who had given Assange refuge.
Australian-born Assange is currently being held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison.
He has been there since last April when police dragged him from the embassy following a seven-year stand-off.
The revelation about his secret family emerged last week in court papers, seen by The Mail on Sunday, about the US extradition case and an attempt by Assange to secure bail as Covid-19 sweeps through the prison population.
The family spent time in Sweden meaning she was a fluent Swedish speaker, able to help defend Assange against the allegations, which were rescinded last year - © Provided by Daily Mail
Now, in a world exclusive interview, Miss Morris reveals how:
The news will come as a bombshell to Assange's friends and enemies since he was widely understood to have led a near-monastic life since entering the embassy in 2012.
Instead, as The Mail on Sunday's exclusive pictures show, he was a hands-on father, playing with his baby son under the noses of his increasingly hostile Ecuadorian hosts and the 24-hour a day scrutiny of US intelligence agencies.
Miss Morris is revealing their long-term relationship and the existence of their sons because she fears Assange's life is at serious risk if he remains in Belmarsh, where one inmate has already died of Covid-19.
She is pleading for her fiance to be released under Government plans to free thousands of prisoners to quell the spread of the deadly virus between bars.
By then intimate footage of Max's birth, shot on a GoPro camera by a friend, had been seized by the US along with Assange's legal documents from his quarters inside the embassy. Pictured: Assange in a prison van as he leaves Westminster… - © Provided by Daily Mail
Miss Morris says Assange is doubly vulnerable because he suffers from a chronic lung condition exacerbated by his years inside the embassy and has mental health issues which become more severe as a result of isolation.
She said last night, 'I love Julian deeply and I am looking forward to marrying him.'
'Over the past five years I have discovered that love makes the most intolerable circumstances seem bearable but this is different – I am now terrified I will not see him alive again.'
'Julian has been fiercely protective of me and has done his best to shield me from the nightmares of his life.'
'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.'
'Mentally, I do not think he will survive further enforced isolation either.'
'He is effectively in solitary confinement, in a cell for up for 23 and a half hours a day with no access to us, his family, or the psychiatric help he needs.'
Yesterday marked exactly a year since Assange was evicted from the embassy where he had been given political asylum, putting him beyond the reach of America.
The US wants him in court to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
All relate to the leak of 700,000 classified documents handed to WikiLeaks by former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning) in 2010.
Washington says the leak endangered the lives of American agents and their sources working in the field. If found guilty, he could face 175 years in prison.
It is understood that Assange's right to a family life with Miss Morris, a Swedish national who has lived and worked here for almost 20 years, and his two British-born children, will play a part in WikiLeaks' legal bid to keep him in the UK.
For the past decade, Assange's legal, political and diplomatic imbroglio has dominated the headlines, as has speculation about his links to celebrity supporters such as Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson.
Miss Morris feared the American security agencies watching Assange would be suspicious of her pregnancy and newborn Gabriel - © Provided by Daily Mail
Now it seems the flirtatious gossip disguised the fact he was in a committed relationship with a member of his own legal team.
Miss Morris first met Assange in 2011 for a cup of tea at London's Frontline Club, a popular media and legal haunt, when her friend Jennifer Robinson, WikiLeaks' lawyer, put out a request for help fighting the Swedish claims.
Miss Morris had an international upbringing with her theatre director mother and urban planner father.
The family spent time in Sweden meaning she was a fluent Swedish speaker, able to help defend Assange against the allegations, which were rescinded last year.
She is also a fluent Spanish speaker, a skill which would become equally critical when Assange sought asylum in a South American embassy the following year.
She has a degree in law and politics from London's prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies and took her MSc at Oxford where she was a noted scholar.
She became a member of Assange's inner circle in the embassy, officially changing her name from Sara Gonzalez Devant to Stella Morris so she could maintain a lower profile while researching and drafting legal documents for WikiLeaks.
She said: 'At the beginning it was a working relationship. I was in the embassy every day and Julian became a friend.'
'Over the years he went from being a person I enjoyed seeing to the man I wanted to see most in the world.'
'His public image is not what I fell in love with, it's the real person behind it.'
'He is a generous and tender and loving partner. Our relationship began early in 2015.'
'Despite all the public attention we managed to carve a space for a private life and, because it was serious for both of us, we began to look ahead to our years together after the embassy.'
'He asked me to marry him in 2017 and I chose a diamond ring, which I showed him online, that we both loved. We even hoped we'd find a way of marrying in the embassy.'
'We wanted a family and we lamented the impossibility of having a baby, given our situation. It felt like a tragedy for us.'
She continued saying that they talked about it many times and then Julian said, "People take difficult decisions in difficult situations and we will manage".
'The best way I can describe it is by saying it was like being in a war zone and that in wars people can and do fall in love despite everything.'
'Being in love, getting engaged, having children while he was in the embassy, it was an act of rebellion.'
'Also, at the time that we started trying for a baby, it seemed that life was set to change for the better for Julian.'
'The United Nations were supporting him, we thought he would not be prosecuted by the Americans, and it would only be a matter of time before he was free.'
'We could see a future in which we'd be an ordinary family.'
South African-born lawyer Stella Morris (right) fell in love with the controversial WikiLeaks founder five years ago while visiting him to work on a legal bid to halt the extraditions. The couple have been engaged since 2017 - © Provided by Daily Mail
Both Assange and Miss Morris were overjoyed to discover that she was pregnant but she went through her antenatal care alone.
'It was lonely, challenging,' she admits, adding that she smuggled scans of their unborn son into the embassy to share with Assange.
She gave birth, having been induced, in a London hospital and took Gabriel to meet his father when he was just a week old.
'Seeing Julian holding his child made all the madness of his existence fade,' she says.
'Julian brought up his oldest son, mostly on his own, from when he was a toddler to adulthood so his default mode as a father is hands-on.'
'He's warm, easygoing and, above all, proud. Our boys are happy children, they love seeing their daddy's face and hearing his voice.'
Miss Morris feared the American security agencies watching Assange would be suspicious of her pregnancy and newborn baby.
She tried to disguise her bump in billowing clothes and then, when Gabriel was born, he was carried in and out of the embassy in the arms of a friend who passed the child off as his own.
Miss Morris would always take care to arrive either before or after her son.
In January 2018, a guard working for the Spanish security firm, manning the embassy, warned her of a plot to steal one of Gabriel's nappies to secure his DNA and test his paternity.
'Out of disgust, he decided to tell me what he had been asked to do,' Miss Morris says.
'He had been given instructions to follow me outside the embassy and steal our baby's nappy from inside it so they could analyse the DNA.'
'He warned me not to bring the baby into the embassy again.'
'I was nauseous. I knew there was spying but this felt ruthless, as if there were no boundaries.'
'It wasn't just an invasion of Gabriel's privacy, it made me think he wasn't safe.'
'It's hard to talk about it without sounding like it was some insane plot but that is the reality of Julian's world. It can be a sinister place.'
Despite their concerns, the couple decided to have a second child.
Miss Morris became pregnant with Max but as her pregnancy progressed, a new Ecuadorian government became hostile to Assange, banning visitors and curtailing his telephone and online access.
She was unable to see him from November 2018 until after Max arrived in February last year.
Assange did not meet his newest son until May when Miss Morris was allowed into Belmarsh with both boys.
By then intimate footage of Max's birth, shot on a GoPro camera by a friend, had been seized by the US along with Assange's legal documents from his quarters inside the embassy.
'The first time Julian saw Max he'd been held in isolation and his mental health was already suffering,' she says.
'But as Max dozed in his father's arms there was this tiny glimpse of normality for us all.'
'Even so, seeing Julian in prison is very jarring and my heart sinks that I have to take my little ones to visit their father in there.'
'It's not something I envisioned when we started our family. There's nothing I regret – but I want my boys to have their father back.'
Miss Morris is currently living with extended family in London.
She is being supported by Assange's mother Christine Assange and his father John Shipton, who are both delighted by their new grandchildren.
Mrs Assange has described them as 'bringing joy and light to our darkest hours'.
The boys' godmothers are also helping.
Oscar and Grammy-nominated singer M.I.A is Gabriel's godmother, while former actress Tracy Ward, now the activist aristocrat Tracy Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort, is Max's.
At present Miss Morris, like all family members of prisoners, is banned from visiting because of Covid-19.
She is anxious that Assange is also unable to see his legal team or prepare for his extradition hearing next month.
'For a long time I have feared I will lose Julian to suicide if there is no way in which he can stop his extradition to the US,' she says.
'I now fear I may lose him for different reasons, and sooner, to the virus. He doesn't have a voice at present but I do. That's why I am using it.'
At risk from coronavirus, Julian Assange is one of just two inmates in Belmarsh maximum-security prison held for skipping bail
By Matt Kennard• 1 April 2020
Julian Assange supporters outside Woolwich Crown Court in London, Britain, 26 February 2020. The court is situated next to Belmarsh prison. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andy Rain)
Julian Assange is one of just two inmates at Belmarsh maximum security prison in London, which houses 797 prisoners, being held for violating bail conditions, it can be revealed.
Last week, lawyers for Julian Assange, who has a chronic lung condition, applied for emergency bail for their client on the grounds he was particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic. The presiding judge on the case, Vanessa Baraitser, rejected the claim.
Yet Declassified UK has found that HMP Belmarsh has been repeatedly criticised by prisons inspectors since 2005 for not having adequate anti-infection precautions in place.
New figures released to Declassified UK from Britain’s Ministry of Justice (MOJ) also appear to show the irregular nature of the conditions in which Assange is being held.
The figures, correct for March 11 2020, show that more than 20% of the Belmarsh prison population is held for murder, while nearly two-thirds — or 477 people — are imprisoned for violent offences. A further 16 inmates are held for offences related to terrorism, including four people who planned to carry out terrorist attacks.
Twenty inmates are held for sex crimes against children. This includes four people imprisoned in Belmarsh for rape of a child under 13, with a further three jailed for making indecent photographs of a child. Thirty-seven inmates are in Belmarsh for serious sex crimes, including 14 inmates convicted of rape of a woman aged over 16.
In the list of offences of Belmarsh inmates provided to Declassified UK (found at the bottom of this article) it is likely that the one prisoner in the “fail to surrender to court/police bail at the appointed time” category refers to Assange. Another prisoner is held under a similar category: “fail to answer to court/police bail as soon as practicable”. It is not known who this prisoner is.
The new figures raise further questions as to why the WikiLeaks publisher continues to be held at Belmarsh, which is described as “holding high-security risk prisoners on remand and awaiting trial”. The prison is infamous for its “Category A” facility which houses inmates described by the British government as “prisoners who, if they were to escape, pose the most threat to the public, the police or national security”.
On Friday, two inmates at Belmarsh were charged with beating their cellmate to death inside the prison in February.An aerial view of Belmarsh prison, where Julian Assange is held, in south-east London. Just in front sits Woolwich Crown Court where the US extradition proceedings against Assange are being heard. ‘Perception of bias’
District Judge Baraitser is overseen by Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the Westminster Chief Magistrate who informally stepped aside on the Assange case after admitting a “perception of bias”. It is presumed this relates to her husband and son’s links to the military and intelligence establishment exposed by Assange and WikiLeaks.
However, Lady Arbuthnot has refused to formally recuse herself from the case, meaning the defence cannot revisit her previous rulings in the Assange case. It is also likely that Arbuthnot was involved in appointing Baraitser to oversee the case and is still responsible for “supporting and guiding” and “liaising” with her junior judge.
Assange has always said he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to the US for his publishing activities. He was grabbed from the Ecuadorian embassy by British police in April 2019 and initially imprisoned for 50 weeks for violating bail conditions.
The ruling, which was close to the maximum sentence for the offence of 12 months, appeared to be irregular. By contrast, British man Jack Shepherd, who in 2015 killed a woman in a speedboat crash on the River Thames and was charged with manslaughter, was given a six-month sentence for skipping bail, half that awarded to Assange. Shepherd fled the country to the former Soviet republic of Georgia for 10 months before he turned himself in and returned to the UK.
In a 2018 ruling, Lady Arbuthnot dismissed Assange’s fear of being extradited to the US. “I accept that Mr Assange had expressed fears of being returned to the United States from a very early stage,” she said, but, “I do not find that Mr Assange’s fears were reasonable”. However, in April and May 2019, the US Department of Justice charged Assange with 18 criminal offences, mostly under the Espionage Act, which could see him facing 175 years in prison in the US.
Assange is now held solely at the behest of the US after his bail violation sentence was extended by Judge Baraitser last September on the grounds that his “remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition”. Assange may now be held indefinitely at Belmarsh given the likely delay in US extradition proceedings due to coronavirus.
Last month, 117 doctors and psychologists published a letter in the medical journal The Lancet calling for an end to what they called “the psychological torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange”. Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who visited Assange in Belmarsh in May 2019, has said Assange shows symptoms of “psychological torture”.
Julian Assange departs Belmarsh Magistrates Court in London on 11 February 2011. (Photo: EPA / Andy Rain)
‘Inadequate infection control’
Declassified UK can also reveal that Belmarsh may be a particularly dangerous prison for inmates such as Assange who, in addition to a lung condition, also has significant dental problems. Belmarsh has been repeatedly criticised by prisons inspectors since 2005 for not having adequate anti-infection precautions in place, particularly in its dental facilities.
A 2007 report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons following an unannounced biannual inspection found that “infection control was inadequate” citing “a lack of infection control measures in the dental suite”.
The next inspection, in 2009, similarly discovered that “infection control and decontamination standards were still not sufficiently good”. The 2011 inspection concluded that dental facilities were still a problem and that “the dental surgery should be refurbished to meet infection control guidelines”. It added: “A separate decontamination room should be installed in the dental surgery to ensure compliance with Department of Health regulation.”
Another critical inspection report in 2013 found the recommendation that the dental surgery be refurbished to comply with infection control guidance was “not achieved”. A 2015 enquiry further concluded that “all clinical areas, including house block treatment rooms, should meet current infection control standards.”
The inspectors’ 2018 report noted that there were now “suitable infection control and communicable disease policies” in place, but it is not certain if this is the case more than two years later. A report on conditions in Belmarsh by the Independent Monitoring Boards last year found that “major safety and decency concerns remain” while “the state of the showers and many of the toilets across the prison is appalling”.
Prisons are known to be among the most dangerous places for the spread of viruses. In Scotland prisoners nearing the end of their sentences could be released to halt the spread of coronavirus in the country’s jails. Iran recently released 85,000 prisoners, including British woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC recently said his defence team was denied entry to Belmarsh because 100 prison staff were self-isolating due to coronavirus. Some 27 inmates have so far tested positive for coronavirus across 14 British prisons. DM
Matt Kennard is head of investigations at Declassified UK. He tweets at @DCKennard.
Julian Assange is imprisoned among people with the following crimes committed for which they were prosecuted: