Julian Assange’s possible extradition to the US for his work with Wikileaks has been complicated by a bail application over his ill health supported by his partner, who is also the mother of his two young sons.
Lawyer Stella Moris-Smith Robertson said coronavirus is spreading through Belmarsh Prison, where Assange has been since he was dragged protesting from the Ecuadorian embassy in London one year ago.
The Australian fathered two children with Moris-Smith Robertson during his 2487 days in self-imposed incarceration which began when he sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex assault charges.
Moris-Smith Robertson said there were now genuine fears for the health of Assange due to the spread of coronavirus in the UK and his isolation in prison, Britain’s Press Association news agency reported late on Saturday.
PA revealed the unexpected personal connection: Citing court documents, the agency reported that Moris-Smith Robertson said she and Assange have been in a relationship since 2015 and have two children, three-year-old Gabriel and one-year-old Max.
She says she met Assange in 2011 when she was a legal researcher and he was living at the Ecuadorian embassy, and the two developed a strong bond.
Assange is waiting for an extradition hearing on behalf of the US, where he is wanted for questioning over WikiLeaks’ activities.
Assange’s lawyers argue that the 48-year-old is at risk of coronavirus infection because it is “endemic” in prisons, and he is more vulnerable because of physical and mental health issues.
Moris-Smith Robertson said she feared Assange could die: “He is in isolation for 23 hours a day and all visits have stopped.”
Last month, a British court rejected a bail request, ruling that Assange was likely to skip US extradition proceedings if freed.
Assange spent seven years at the Ecuadorian mission. Police arrested him in April 2019 for failing to surrender to an earlier warrant issued in relation to a Swedish extradition request in a case involving charges of sexual assault which were later dropped.
Assange’s next extradition hearing is fixed for May 18, after a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court rejected calls for an adjournment until September over what his legal team said were “insuperable” difficulties preparing his case because of the Covid-19 pandemic.