Over 60 Doctors Urgently Petition UK Home Secretary Over Julian Assange’s Physical Health, Warn He May Die
Over 60 medical doctors have issued an open letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for urgent action to protect the life of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The doctors fear that he may not survive unless he is moved from Belmarsh Prison to an actual hospital where he can receive proper treatment.
“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,” the letter states.
Australian doctor Lissa Johnson PhD, Clinical Psychologist, warned that the possibility that he could die is very grave.
“Given the rapid decline of his health in Belmarsh Prison, Julian Assange must immediately be transferred to a university teaching hospital for appropriate and specialized medical care. If the UK Government fails to heed doctors’ advice by urgently arranging such a transfer on medical grounds, there is a very real possibility that Mr. Assange may die,” Johnson said in a statement provided to the Gateway Pundit. “As it stands, serious questions surround not only the health impacts of Mr. Assange’s detention conditions but his medical fitness to stand trial and prepare his defense. Independent specialist medical assessment is therefore needed to determine whether Julian Assange is medically fit for any of his pending legal proceedings.”
“Consistent with its commitment to human rights and rule of law, the UK Government must heed the urgent warning of medical professionals from around the world, and transfer Julian Assange to an appropriately specialized and expert hospital setting, before it’s too late,” she continued. “Due to the climate of intimidation and fear surrounding Julian Assange, a number of doctors have insisted on anonymity before examining Julian Assange over the years, fearful of negative consequences to their reputations and careers.”
“The signatories to this open letter refuse to be silenced and are standing openly alongside the numerous medical and human rights authorities who have called, repeatedly and urgently, for the dangerous medical neglect of Julian Assange to end.”
Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison awaiting an extradition trial. The United States has an 18-count indictment against him in the Eastern District of Virginia. They accuse him of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a Defense Department computer password.
Prior to his arrest, Assange spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, unable to receive proper medical treatment, and the lack of sunshine and fresh air taking a toll on his system. Doctors who visited him there wrote an article for the Guardian pleading for him to be allowed to go to the hospital for treatment, headlining their account “We examined Julian Assange, and he badly needs care — but he can’t get it.”
The doctors wrote, “experience tells us that the prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention inflicts profound psychological and physical trauma above and beyond the expected stressors of incarceration. These can include severe anxiety, pathological levels of stress, dissociation, depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, among others.”
In June, the UN issued a scathing report in which Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture said that Assange has been exposed to psychological torture and warned that the award-winning publisher could face the death penalty if he is extradited to the United States.
Melzer visited Assange along with two medical experts who specialize in examining potential torture victims on May 9.
“I am particularly alarmed at the recent announcement by the US Department of Justice of 17 new charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act, which currently carry up to 175 years in prison. This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future,” Melzer continued.
Melzer also wrote that “there has been a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden and, more recently, Ecuador.”
“In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”
Speaking about the visit that he and the medical professionals had with Assange earlier that month, Melzer said that it was obvious that his health had been seriously impacted by the “extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years.”
“Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma,” the UN report said.
“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” the findings continued “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.”
The report concluded with a condemnation of the actions of these governments in working to deliberately abuse him.
“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Melzer said. “The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”
Prior to the release of the UN report, the publisher’s mother, Christine Assange tweeted that the “UK Gov is unlawfully slowly killing my son!”
“They made him very ill by refusing him ANY access to life sustaining fresh air, exercise, sun/VitD or proper medical care for 6 YEARS of illegal Embassy detention,” she tweeted at the United Nations Twitter account. “Then against ALL medical advice threw him into a prison cell.”