Julian Assange’s fiancée wore layers of clothes and loudly complained about putting on weight to avoid Ecuadorian officials discovering she was pregnant.
Stella Moris, a 37-year-old lawyer, spoke out about her romantic relationship with the 49-year-old WikiLeaks founder as he prepares for a four-week hearing at the Old Bailey, which is set to begin this week.
Assange faces 18 charges and a sentence of 175 years should a judge grant his extradition to the United States. The charges on the indictment include conspiring to hack government computers, and violating espionage law after he published a series of leaks in 2010 from Chelsea Manning, the former US Army intelligence analyst which Washington claims endangered the lives of its agents.
Ms Moris, who has given birth to two of Assange’s young children – Gabriel and Max, decided to speak out as her fiancé’s legal team are keen to show that he has a young family who would be deprived of a father if he is sent to prison overseas.
In an interview with The Times Magazine, Ms Moris gave details of her pregnancies when she would visit Assange while he was living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
She revealed that they went to great lengths to hide her bumps so that the Ecuadorians would not use it as a pretext to throw Assange out of the embassy – where he lived for almost seven years. He is currently imprisoned at Belmarsh, the maximum security prison in south-east London.
She told how she would pile on layers of clothes every time she visited him and complained loudly for the benefit of the microphones about putting on weight.
“There were security guards there 24/7 and CCTV but not in Julian’s bedroom or office,” she said, adding that Assange’s rooms were almost certainly bugged.
“Anything private or secret I wrote down on a piece of paper,” she added. “That’s how I told Julian I was pregnant.”
On one occasion after their three-year-old son, Gabriel, was born, he was carried into the embassy by Stephen Hu, an actor friend of Moris’s, who was posing as his father.
Moris would then time her arrival afterwards. By the time 19-month-old Max was born, the Ecuadorian government, keen to improve its relationship with America, wanted Assange out of the embassy and the pressure on Assange began to increase. As a result, the couple decided it was no longer safe for her to visit.
The mother-of-two also revealed how Assange proposed to her, during her first pregnancy.
“He gave me a VR [virtual reality] headset and told me there was a surprise inside for me. I found myself walking through this virtual world. There was a house and then a beach with balloons and stuff. And then Julian said ‘look up’ and there was this massive ‘Will you marry me?’ written in the sky.”
Assange’s legal team believe that by charging him under the century-old Espionage Act, the Trump administration has set a dangerous precedent.
The law bans the publication of government secrets and offers no protections to the press under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.