Julian Assange could use human rights laws to fight his extradition to the US because he fathered two sons while holed up in a London embassy.
The 48-year-old conceived Gabriel, two, and Max, one, with his lawyer Stella Morris.
And his legal team could now use his right to family life with the 37-year-old Swedish national and their two British-born sons to bolster his case.
Miss Morris sensationally revealed yesterday that she fell in love with the WikiLeaks founder five years ago while helping him to build his case.
Fiancée: The Wikileaks founder with the mother of his children and his lawyer Stella Morris
The couple became engaged in 2017, after Assange had been inside the Ecuadorian embassy for four years and while he was still wanted in Sweden over rape allegations that have now been dropped.
Miss Morris told the Mail on Sunday that Assange watched both children being born in London hospitals via live video link and met Gabriel when he was smuggled into the embassy.
She believes US agents tried to steal one of Gabriel’s nappies for DNA tests after becoming suspicious Assange was the father.
First sight: Assange with Gabriel after the baby was smuggled into the Ecuadorian embassy
Miss Morris, who was born in South Africa, is seeking bail for Assange, arguing coronavirus is spreading through Belmarsh, the London jail where he has been held for a year. He had been dragged out of the embassy after 2,487 days in self-imposed incarceration.
The couple’s affair and subsequent children were a closely-guarded secret.
But, now their existence is common knowledge, it is understood Assange’s legal team will use his rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights act when his US extradition case resumes on May 18.
But it is unlikely to sway the court by itself, according to leading human rights lawyer Karen Todner, who represented Lauri Love in his extradition case for allegedly hacking US military servers.
Sons: Both Assange’s children were conceived in the embassy
She said: ‘The court will have to take into account they have not actually ever lived as a family, and Mr Assange is not the only person who can look after the children.
‘My impression is that this is being raised now because they are trying anything to get him out of Belmarsh, where conditions will be horrible right now.
‘And though it should form part of his case because it’s a factor that’s in his favour, it is not going to make a massive difference to his situation because it needs to be balanced against so many other interests.’
US authorities claim Assange endangered the lives of American agents and their sources working in the field by disseminating thousands of classified documents in 2010. His extradition hearing was told in February that some US government sources disappeared after they were identified in the papers leaked by former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning and published by WikiLeaks.
Classified data published by the site was found at a compound used by Osama Bin Laden, indicating it had been useful to Al Qaeda, lawyers for the US authorities said.
The revelation that Assange was able to maintain an intimate relationship and father two children while in hiding from extradition charges has reopened the row over why the British taxpayer had to fund his protection.
Joe Ventre, campaign manager at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said last night: ‘Given Mr Assange’s embassy exploits, taxpayers will question whether the round-the-clock guard he was afforded was really a good use of their money.
‘It was utterly unfair for the Met to have to spend precious resources guarding Mr Assange when the cops could have been out on the beat fighting crime.’