CBS News September 24, 2020, 8:27 AM
While Julian Assange is fighting his legal battle against U.S. extradition, his fiancée, Stella Moris, is making sure the couple’s young children know who their father is — despite the WikiLeaks founder being in hiding or jail since before they were born.
“I try to give them as normal a feeling of a family as I can,” Moris told CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer. “And they speak to him every day.”
Assange is in a London courtroom Thursday morning, after more than 160 current and former world leaders and lawmakers sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking him not to be sent to the U.S.
Assange is facing U.S. espionage charges, including conspiracy to hack a Pentagon computer, and using WikiLeaks to publish thousands of classified documents. He argues the release was in the public interest.
“There’s no way Julian will face a fair trial in the U.S.,” Moris said.
The South African lawyer met Assange a decade ago when she joined his legal team. She visited him regularly, the two soon became lovers, and even managed to keep their relationship secret while he was holed up inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for seven years.
“We found ways to be private. We had a tent in his room, that we put, you know, fairy lights in… you know, like a camping tent,” Moris recalled.
Assange soon fathered two children with Moris, Gabriel and Max, who have rarely seen their father. Moris still stands by her decision, calling Assange “the man I wanted to start a family with.”
“I was 33 and we decided, you know, let’s live our lives,” she said.
Going public with their relationship now, when Assange could be looking at decades of U.S. prison time, is a calculated emotional appeal to the British court.
Moris said the court “has to deal with the reality” of Assange’s young family living in the U.K.
Assange, revered and reviled throughout the world, even has a checkered history with former colleagues who call him a liar and an egomaniac. He also denies allegations that he colluded with Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
But Moris has one clear message to their children.
“I tell them that Julian is a hero,” she said. “And I want them to just see our love and their father’s affection to the extent that we can.” © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.