More than 60 doctors warn British Home secretary that the health of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is so bad he could die in Belmarsh prison
There is fresh concern about the health of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, after more than 60 doctors wrote an open letter to British authorities.
The doctors in their letter to the British home secretary, Priti Patel, stated that the 48-year-old Australian should be moved from Belmarsh high security prison to a university teaching hospital.
The development comes after Swedish prosecutors last week dropped their investigation into a rape allegation made against him in August 2010, despite saying they found the plaintiff’s claim “credible”.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the doctors based their assessment on “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his 21 October court appearance in London and a 1 November report by Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.
The independent UN rights expert said Assange’s “continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life”.
“We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange,” the doctors said in their 16-page open letter.
They said they had “concerns about Mr Assange’s fitness” to go through the full extradition hearing, which is set for February.
“Mr Assange requires urgent expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health,” they reportedly wrote.
“Any medical treatment indicated should be administered in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital (tertiary care),” the letter states. “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 doctors who wrote the letter are said to be from the United States, Australia, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka, and Poland.
Supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson recently warned that the health of Assange is causing concern. She said that said that his life “was at risk” and he is “unhealthy” in captivity.
In May this year Assange was too ill to appear via video link in a court room hearing to discuss his extradition to the United States. He had reportedly been moved to the hospital wing of the Belmarsh high security prison in London.
In June then Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a US request for Julian Assange to be extradited to America.
The US Justice Department had filed 17 new charges against Assange in May, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act after he received top secret data (from Chelsea Manning) and unlawfully published the names of classified sources.
Assange had made a court appearance in October, where he failed to delay his extradition hearing to the United States.
During that appearance, Assange reportedly appeared frail, and found it hard to remember when he was born.
For the record Assange has always denied the Swedish allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm. He fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012, after he lost his final plea in the UK to avoid extradition to Sweden.
But Assange was brought into British custody when police entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in April 2019 and dragged him out, after a seven year stalemate.
Assange was then found guilty in the Southwark Crown Court of breaching the Bail Act, and was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail, at Belmarsh prison in London.
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