‘Mr Assange could die in prison. There is no time to lose’ – over 60 medics in open letter to UK govt.

Julian Assange may be in real danger of dying in a UK prison, medics from across the world warned in an open letter. He may not even be fit to stand extradition trial, given the years of denial of proper healthcare.

Assange, the founder of the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, is currently in British custody at a top-security Belmarsh jail. In February next year he is to stand trial over an extradition request from the US, where he may be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. In an open letter addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel, over 60 medical professionals from across the world voiced their concern over the physical and mental health of the publisher, arguing that he may not only be unfit to stand a trial but even at risk of dying.

“We have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose,” the letter says.

Also on rt.com ‘A 1950s show trial’: John Pilger describes ‘disgraceful’ courtroom treatment of Julian Assange by UK judge...

The doctors cite several eyewitness accounts demonstrating deterioration of Assange’s health during his seven-year-long say at the Ecuadoran embassy in London. The Australian-born anti-secrecy activist breached his bail conditions by hiding at the diplomatic mission in 2012 and remained there until his eviction in April this year.

A UN panel of experts concluded that the self-exile amounts to his arbitrary detention by the British authorities, considering the circumstances.

A threat of arrest made it impossible for Assange to get treatment at a proper hospital over that period of time, even as living in confined conditions and increasing isolation took their toll on his health. The medics that did get a chance to examine him at the embassy did so against the background of a “climate of fear and intimidation”, the letter said, which was most likely created deliberately.

If it was deliberate, we as medical doctors condemn such behavior as reckless, dangerous and cruel. That all this has been played out in the heart of London for many years is a source of great sadness and shame to many of us.

The concerns were further fueled by the opinion of Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, who visited Assange in prison in early May, accompanied by two medical experts specializing in assessing victims of torture. He said the team concluded that Assange had symptoms of a person who sustained psychological torture over an extended period of time.

Also on rt.com UN torture envoy demands ‘full accountability & compensation’ after Sweden drops rape probe against Assange...

Assange’s latest public appearance during a court hearing last month further demonstrated his ailing health. The man seemed exhausted and confused, struggled to recall his own name and date of birth and complained that he couldn’t think properly.

The signatories called for an urgent expert medical assessment of Assange’s state of health that should be done “in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital,” as opposed to the prison’s hospital ward.

US accusations of Assange filed under the Espionage Act stem from WikiLeaks publishing of classified materials embarrassing to the US government. Supporters see his mistreatment as a major attack on freedom of speech with disastrous consequences for whistleblowers and journalists, who consider exposing wrongdoing by Western governments.

The open letter was signed by medics from the United States, Australia, Britain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka and Poland.

  • Published in World

Rape Probe Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Dropped: Swedish Prosecutor

Stockholm: Swedish prosecutors said Tuesday they have dropped their investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, even though they found the plaintiff's claim "credible".

"My assessment is that all investigative measures that can be taken have been taken. But... the evidence is not strong enough to file an indictment," deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson told reporters.

The investigation was launched after a Swedish woman who met Assange at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm in August 2010 accused the Australian of having unprotected sex with her while she was sleeping. She said she had previously repeatedly refused to have unprotected sex with him.

The statute of limitations in the case was to expire in August 2020.

Assange has always denied the allegation.

"I want to stress that the plaintiff has given a credible and reliable account (of events). Her statement is clear, long and detailed," Persson said in a statement.

"But altogether, my assessment is that the evidence has weakened in such a way that there is no longer reason to continue the investigation."

Assange, 48, has been held at a top-security British prison since April after police dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 to avoid an extradition order to Sweden.

He was subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions when he took refuge in the embassy.

Swedish authorities closed the rape investigation in 2017, saying it was not possible to proceed as Assange could not be reached. But the case was reopened following his arrest.

In September, prosecutors said they had interviewed seven witnesses over the summer in a bid to move the inquiry forward.

Assange is also fighting a US bid to extradite him from Britain on charges filed under the Espionage Act that could see him given a sentence of up to 175 years in a US prison.

Most of those charges relate to obtaining and disseminating classified information over his website WikiLeaks publishing military documents and diplomatic cables.

  • Published in World

Denied tools for his defense, Assange remains resilient ahead of ‘epic’ extradition battle – Pilger

Julian Assange is in high spirits despite being deprived the materials he needs for his defense, veteran journalist John Pilger has reported, adding that Assange’s upcoming extradition hearing will be a battle for democracy.

Pilger tweeted out a status update after visiting the WikiLeaks co-founder in Belmarsh Prison.

“Denied the tools to prepare his defence against extradition to America, [Assange’s] resilience endures,” he wrote, stating that Assange’s upcoming court hearing will being an “epic fight… the fight of democracy.”

@johnpilger I saw Julian #Assange today in Belmarsh prison. Denied the tools to prepare his defence against extradition to America, his resilience endures. On Monday he appears at Westminster Magistrates Court where his epic fight begins. It's the fight of democracy. Join us.
 

Pilger has been a tireless advocate for Assange, visiting him in prison multiple times and making appearances at rallies demanding the journalist’s release.

Assange will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday as he battles to stop his extradition to the United States.

In the US, Assange is charged with possession and dissemination of classified information. If found guilty, he could receive up to 175 years in prison. The journalist has been in Washington’s crosshairs for more than a decade, after WikiLeaks published a video showing the US military attacking journalists and civilians in Iraq in July 2007.

Assange’s treatment at the hands of UK authorities and other parties involved in his imprisonment was condemned by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in October. According to Melzer, the WikiLeaks co-founder has been subjected to “psychological torture” and his right to due process has been “systematically violated.”

Also on rt.com Assange subjected to torture & violations of due process rights – UN envoy
  • Published in World

Roger Waters performs in London at rally in support of Julian Assange

London, September 3 (RHC)-- Rock ’n’ Roll legend and former front-man of Pink Floyd Roger Waters performed Monday one of his hit songs ‘Wish You Were Here’ outside the United Kingdom’s Interior Ministry in London during a rally in solidarity with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The British activist is a long-standing supporter of Assange and WikiLeaks and staunch opponent of the United States imperialistic practices, publicly criticizing the unilateral sanctions against Venezuela, the lawfare strategy and jailing of Brazilian former president Lula da Silva, and challenging far-right leaders around the world. 

After playing the iconic song, during Monday’s support demonstration, Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother detailed that after visiting Assange, he could see that “Julian is emaciated and not in tip-top order or health... he is suffering anxiety.  He is still in fighting spirits, but his well-being is declining rapidly.”

Despite Julian Assange formally denying his consent to an extradition request before the Westminster Court of Magistrates in London, he now faces a full U.S. extradition hearing in February 2020. 

"I do not wish to surrender for extradition.  I'm a journalist winning many, many awards and protecting many people," said Assange who testified by video conference from the Belmarsh maximum-security prison, where he is imprisoned after having been condemned by another British court to 50 weeks of jail for violating his conditional freedom in 2012.

The U.S. Justice Department has mounted 18 charges in total against him, with accusations of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and American diplomatic communications.

As Assange continues imprisoned in Belmarsh his physiological and health condition, many denounce, has worsened.  Investigative journalist John Pilger said Julian Assange’s “psychological torture is unabated,” shortly after speaking to the Wikileaks founder last week. 

“I spoke to Julian Assange at the weekend.  His psychological torture is unabated.  He remains isolated in his small cell, mostly 23 hours a day, denied proper exercise.  He has lost more weight. Although 'approved', phone calls to his parents are still not possible,” Pilger tweeted.

Campaigners for Julian Assange’s freedom are not the only ones with serious concerns about the way Assange has been treated.  In May, U.N. rapporteur Nils Melzer visited Assange in prison and said that “physically there were ailments but that side of things are being addressed by the prison health service and there was nothing urgent or dangerous in that way.  What was worrying was the psychological side and his constant anxiety.”  
 

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in Culture

Assange lawyer reveals Pentagon behind pursuit of WikiLeaks publisher

A lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has confirmed that the Pentagon – not the White House or any other government agency whose secrets he leaked – was driving the nearly decade-long campaign to destroy the publisher.

After asking officials at the Obama administration if they “really wanted” the publisher for whistleblowers and warning that “there are dangerous precedents here,” Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said they responded:

We don’t want him, but the Pentagon does, and the Pentagon may eventually get its way.

Robertson’s “high connections” got him an audience with Obama administration insiders after he learned of the secret grand jury they had convened against Assange in 2010, he told Phillip Adams on ABC’s Radio National on Thursday. When Robertson warned them of the First Amendment implications of charging a publisher under national security laws, however, they already knew what kind of precedent it would set.

While the Obama administration charged more leakers under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined, it never attempted to wield the law against a publisher.

And the Pentagon has finally gotten its way. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a request for a US extradition order earlier this month, and Assange will face a full extradition hearing in February.

Also on rt.com Ecuador confident that US won’t execute Assange, but what about spending 175yrs in prison, instead?...

He is charged with 17 violations of the Espionage Act, including obtaining and disclosing national defense information, plus an earlier count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, concerning a massive trove of classified documents given to WikiLeaks by military intelligence analyst Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. The Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, as they were titled for publication, exposed US atrocities including the torture of detainees and murder of civilians and constituted the largest leak of military secrets in US history.

If he is found guilty – and it is highly unlikely that the Eastern District of Virginia court where he will be tried and where no “national security” defendant has ever won a case, will acquit him – he faces 170 years in prison.

The grand jury investigation of Assange at its peak involved the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the FBI, the State Department, and the Diplomatic Security Service, according to WikiLeaks. But it was the Pentagon, as early as 2008, which began the quest to bring down the publisher, launching its war on WikiLeaks through its Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

According to award-winning anti-war journalist John Pilger, their plot involved a media war using reputational smears and “threats of exposure [and] criminal prosecution” aimed at shredding the “feeling of trust” at the core of WikiLeaks’ operations. 

Also on rt.com ‘Assange extradition should be warning to liberals who believe in American democracy’ – Zizek...

The Pentagon’s mission is all but accomplished. Assange has been so thoroughly smeared most of his supporters doubt he will ever get a fair trial. Not only has he been demonized as a rapist, traitor, fascist, and every other name in the book, but even those journalists who have profited off his work – at the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other mainstream media that published WikiLeaks disclosures years ago – have gleefully turned on him.

  • Published in World

Swedish court rejects request to detain Assange in absence over rape allegation

A Swedish court has struck down a prosecutor’s request to detain Julian Assange in absentia over outstanding rape allegations. The case was reopened after the WikiLeaks founder was hauled from London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

The court decided pre-trial detention for Assange would not be “proportionate,” said Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson at a press conference Monday, but added the investigation could still proceed without it.

The ruling was handed down Monday by a judge in a court in Uppsala, north of Stockholm.

Swedish prosecutors reopened the rape case earlier this month, soon after Assange was jailed for skipping a 2012 bail hearing. Assange requested Monday’s hearing be postponed, citing ill health, but the request was denied.

Also on rt.com Sweden’s probe made it impossible for Assange to ‘defend himself’ – UN rapporteur to RT...

Detaining Assange in absence would have allowed Sweden to issue an arrest warrant on him, but for now the European warrant already issued will have to suffice for the investigators, the Swedish judge said.

Assange was arrested in mid-April after spending over six years under political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Also on rt.com 18 ways Julian Assange changed the world (by Lee Camp)...

  • Published in World

Assange psychologically tortured to ‘breaking point’ by ‘democratic states,’ UN rapporteur tells RT

Jailed WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange shows clear signs of degrading and inhumane treatment which only adds to his deteriorating health, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer told RT.

Assange has “all the symptoms typical for a person who has been exposed to prolonged psychological torture,” Melzer told RT’s Afshin Rattansi. This adds to the toll of his deteriorating physical state caused by a lack of adequate medical care for several years, he said.

Melzer said he was judging from two decades of experience in working with POWs and political prisoners, and only after applying “scientific” UN methods to assess Assange’s condition. But the journalist’s case still “shocked” him.

An individual has been isolated and singled out by several democratic states, and persecuted systematically… to the point of breaking him.

Earlier this month, a UK court sentenced the WikiLeaks co-founder to nearly a year in jail for skipping bail in 2012. The courts are now deciding whether to extradite Assange to the US where he is wanted for 17 charges under the Espionage Act. He can end up serving up to 175 years in prison if proven guilty.

Also on rt.com ‘Grave concerns’: Assange can barely talk, moved to prison hospital, says WikiLeaks...

Also in May, Sweden reopened an investigation into the allegations of rape by Assange, which he denies. The probe was originally dropped in 2017.

WikiLeaks warned that the journalist’s health had “significantly deteriorated” during the seven years he spent living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and continued to worsen after he was evicted in April and placed in a British prison. According to WikiLeaks, he was recently moved to the prison’s “hospital wing.”

 

  • Published in World

WikiLeak's Julian Assange "Too Ill" For US Extradition Hearing From Jail

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is too ill to appear via a video link from a British prison in a hearing on an extradition request from the United States, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The United States has requested the extradition of Assange, who was dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on April 11. He faces a total of 18 US criminal counts with decades in prison if convicted.

"He's in fact far from well," Assange's lawyer, Gareth Peirce, said.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot said: "He's not very well."

WikiLeaks said it had grave concerns about Assange's health and that he had been moved to a health ward at Britain's Belmarsh prison. His health has deteriorated in prison and he has lost a lot of weight, WikiLeaks said.

The next hearing on the extradition request was set for June 12.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed