Julian Assange seeks bail fearing coronavirus in jail

Assange, 48, who had taken refuge in the embassy to avoid an European arrest warrant, fearing eventual extradition to the US to face charges of leaking classified information, was dragged out of the embassy and arrested in April last after Ecuador revoked his political asylum status.
Julian Assange was dragged out of the embassy and arrested in April last after Ecuador revoked his political asylum status.(Reuters)
Julian Assange was dragged out of the embassy and arrested in April last after Ecuador revoked his political asylum status.(Reuters)
Updated on Apr 12, 2020 05:36 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, London | By

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seeking bail on the ground that he is in danger of contracting coronavirus while in the Belmarsh prison, while his partner revealed on Sunday that he fathered two children while he was holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy.

Assange, 48, who had taken refuge in the embassy to avoid an European arrest warrant, fearing eventual extradition to the US to face charges of leaking classified information, was dragged out of the embassy and arrested in April last after Ecuador revoked his political asylum status.

The Boris Johnson government is releasing come categories of prisoners across jails to avoid the virus spreading, but it is not clear if they include those facing extradition proceedings. Nirav Modi, who is wanted in India to face charges of major financial offences, is due to appear by videolink from the Wandsworth prison for another remand extension hearing on April 15.

Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, 37, revealed in the Mail on Sunday that Assange had watched the births of both children in London hospitals via live videolink, adding that both boys had visited him in prison, and that they were planning to marry, whether Assange is released or not.

There were genuine fears of Assange’s health, the South Africa-born lawyer said. His next extradition hearing is due in the Westminster Magistrates Court on May 18.

The Observer reported that as part of the bail application, Moris revealed in that they began a relationship when she interacted with him on extradition’s legal issues in 2011: “Over time Julian and I developed a strong intellectual and emotional bond. He became my best friend and I became his,” she wrote.

Moris said she had gone to great lengths to protect the couple’s children, adding that she was making the statement now because their lives were “on the brink” and she feared Assange could die. According to her, Assange is in isolation for 23 hours a day and all visits have stopped.

“My close relationship with Julian has been the opposite of how he is viewed – of reserve, respect for each other and attempts to shield each other from some of the nightmares that have surrounded our lives together,” Moris said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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