WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suffered a small stroke while jailed at the UK’s Belmarsh Prison, his fiancé Stella Moris said over the weekend.
The medical incident comes amid the jailed journalist’s fight to prevent his extradition to the United States from Britain.
On Friday, the U.S. government won its appeal at the British High Court that could see him handed over to Washington over spaying charges stemming from WikiLeaks’ publication of secret military documents more than ten years ago.
According to Moris, who is the mother of Assange’s two children, the mini-stroke occurred in late October as the U.S. government appealed a ruling that would block his removal from the country.
“Julian Assange suffered a stroke on the first day of the High Court appeal hearing on October 27th,” she wrote on Twitter.
In a Sunday interview with the UK Daily Mail, Moris expressed fear that the incident may precipitate a “more major attack.”
“It compounds our fears about his ability to survive, the longer this long legal battle goes on,” she noted.
“It urgently needs to be resolved. Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short,” Moris continued. “That’s what’s happening to Julian. The never-ending court cases are extremely stressful mentally.”
The U.S. government is seeking the extradition of Assange to the United States on 17 charges, including allegations of conspiracy to misuse computers in the U.S. and violating the Espionage Act.
Analysts say he is likely to face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison or even the death penalty if found guilty of the charges.
Assange’s defenders claim that he is simply being sought due to his role in the release of scandalous information implicating Washington in a range of crimes, including serious war crimes and violations of international law.
His prolonged isolation, first in Ecuador’s London embassy and then at the Belmarsh facility, have reportedly taken a serious toll on his physical and mental health.
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