WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has fathered two children with one of his lawyers when he has been hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past ten years, a report said on Sunday.
The 48-year-old Australian is said to be the father of two boys, two and one year old, who were born to South African-born lawyer Stella Morris, the mail reported on Sunday.
The newspaper published the report along with photos of Assange with the toddlers and an interview with Morris who said they "fell in love" and wanted to get married.
The couple have been engaged since 2017, according to the newspaper, which learned about the disclosures in court files last week.
Assange is being held in Belmarsh London maximum security prison when he is fighting an extradition request from the United States to stand trial for allegations of espionage.
Sunday's mail said Morris had decided to disclose their relationship and the existence of their sons because "they fear Assange's life will be seriously jeopardized if he stays in Belmarsh," as the coronavirus spreads.
Morris wants the one-time hacker released under the British government's plans to allow some prisoners to be released temporarily, for fear that COVID-19 could sweep through prisons.
But Assange failed on a bail last month based on his risk of contracting the virus. A British judge said there was "no reason" for his release.
Assange's lawyers could not be reached immediately for comment.
WikiLeaks replied to the report on Twitter.
"Julian Assange's newly discovered partner, mother of her two young children, urges the British government to rescue him and other vulnerable prisoners while #coronavirus sweeps prisons," it said.
Shortly afterwards, the whistleblowing organization published its own video interview with Morris, in which it described its alleged five-year relationship with Assange in detail.
"Together as a family"
Assange has been charged with having released a plethora of secret files in 2010 detailing aspects of U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, under the United States Spy Act.
He settled in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 after skipping bail to avoid separate legal proceedings in Sweden, but was finally pulled out last year.
According to reports, he had the first child with Morris in 2016, the mail on Sunday.
The couple had started a relationship last year while the lawyer was visiting to work on their legal situation.
Assange followed the birth of both children in London hospitals via live video link and met the older boy named Gabriel after being smuggled into the embassy.
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 very much and look forward to marrying him.
"Julian protected me a lot and did his best to protect me from the nightmares of his life."
She said she lived "quietly and privately" and raised Gabriel and his brother Max while "longing for the day we could be together as a family".
Morris added: "Now I have to speak because I can see that his life is on the edge."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)