Imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reportedly been moved out of solitary confinement in the medical wing of Belmarsh Prison, thanks to a revolt by fellow inmates who petitioned the prison and demanded he receive fair treatment.
Assange is currently imprisoned in London’s highest security prison awaiting a trial, which begins next month, to determine if he will be extradited to the United States.
Assange faces charges under the Espionage Act in the United States for his publication of the Iraq and Afghan War Logs. If extradited and convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 175 years for the “crime” of publishing material that the US government did not want the population to know.
Prisoners' revolt and pressure from legal team and campaigners forces Belmarsh to move Assange out of solitary. WikiLeaks statement: pic.twitter.com/9Af9y3zC93
— Don't Extradite Assange – #FreeAssange (@DEAcampaign) January 24, 2020
In a video announcement, WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell explained that “in a dramatic climbdown, authorities at Belmarsh Prison have moved Julian Assange from solitary confinement in the medical wing and relocated him to an area with other inmates. The move is a huge victory for Assange’s legal team and for campaigners who have been insisting for weeks that the prison authorities must end the punitive treatment of Assange.”
“But the decision to relocate Assange is also a massive victory of prisoners in Belmarsh. A group of inmates have petitioned the prison governor on three occasions, insisting that the treatment of Assange was unjust and unfair,” Farrell stated. “After meetings between prisoners, lawyers and the Belmarsh authorities, Assange was moved to a different prison wing — albeit one with only 40 inmates.”
Though he has been moved, Farrell said there are still serious concerns about Assange’s treatment at the prison — especially the fact that he is still being denied adequate time with his lawyers.
WikiLeaks' Kristinn Hrafnsson: "We have now learned that the United States do not consider foreign nationals to have a first amendment protection…they have decided they have extra-territorial reach… This is extremely serious and of grave concern to all journalists" pic.twitter.com/Gk69G1wNsc
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 24, 2020
Last summer, The Gateway Pundit interviewed an inmate at Belmarsh who had a contraband phone and was attempting to raise awareness of Assange’s poor treatment inside the prison.
“Whose side do you think someone in prison would be on? The government who have us locked up in here or a fellow prisoner who actually doesn’t deserve to be here?” the prisoner, whose name we must keep anonymous, said.
The inmate, who provided this reporter with photos of Assange from inside the prison, said that he believes that Assange needs his story told properly and is attempting to do what he can to help.
“I want his case to be understood fully, in detail,” the inmate told TGP. “I want people to know why exactly the USA wants him and what good he has done for the world.”
When I commented about Assange’s clear weight loss seen in the photos he provided, the inmate remarked, “it’s true. Belmarsh has sucked the life out of him.”
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 have taken 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.”
Last year, 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 this 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!”