Supporting People who Speak Out

Without Urgent Care, 60 Doctors Warn Assange Could Die in Jail

Fighting extradition to the United States where he could face espionage charges, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, locked in a London jail, is so ill he could die without urgent medical care, more than 60 doctors wrote in a letter to officials.
Sent to United Kingdom Home Secretary Priti Patel and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, the letter signed by physicians from the UK, Australia, Europe and Sri Lanka stated that Assange, reportedly frail, needs “expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health,” to possibly save his life.
“Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, 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,” they wrote.
With relatively few journalists, especially from his homeland Australia rallying to his defense, the cause has been taken up on social media, led by his family, friends and supporters and officials such as Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, who wrote a report warning Assange’s life was in danger.
“What we have seen from the U.K. government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity,” Melzer wrote in the report. “Despite the medical urgency of my appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the U.K. has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law.”
The doctors’ letter noted over the past eight years Assange was threatened with arrest if he left the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to seek treatment for a series of ailments, including a cracked molar and shoulder stiffness. When his asylum was lifted, British police arrested him.
The letter added that Assange, 48, suffers from psychological problems including “major depression,” as well as dental issues and that he shows the “symptoms of a torture victim.”
He is being held in stark conditions in Belmarsh prison serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail as he also awaits his next extradition hearing in February. In the US, he faces charges of working with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a password for a classified government computer.
Convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison under the Espionage Act. His claims of being a journalist who is entitled to First Amendment protection have sparked furious debate in the profession about his role and that of reporters.
The letter noted Assange was moved to the hospital wing at the prison following a “reported significant deterioration in his health” that made him too unwell to appear in court in May with his family and friends complaining he is being cut off from the world by British authorities.
A week ago, his lawyers scored a victory when Sweden dropped a long-running investigation into a rape allegation against him after prosecutors said too much time elapsed since he was accused.

About Author

Blueprint for Free Speech
administrator

NO COMMENTS

Comments are closed.