A United Nations expert in torture diagnosis has in the past week issued a stark warning that Australian whistleblower Julian Assange is in danger of dying from extreme prison conditions in Britain.
It is testimony to the rank hypocrisy of British and American governments who lecture others around the world about democracy, human rights and international law.
One can only imagine the hysterical outcry among Western governments and media if somehow Assange was being detained in a Russian prison.
The 48-year-old Assange has been held in a maximum-security prison in London since April this year when he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean embassy. His arrest was itself a staggering breach of international law. Assange had been confined to the embassy for nearly seven years where he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to the US.
He should have been released on September 22 when his sentence for a past bail infringement had been served out. Instead, a British judge has ordered Assange to be detained until the extradition trial to the US gets underway next year. If Assange is extradited to the US he is facing 175 years in prison if convicted for espionage. Few would believe that he will receive a fair trial in Britain or the US. He has been denied due process of consulting with his defense lawyers.
Assange’s “espionage” charge stems from the fact that his whistleblower site Wikileaks published volumes of damning information exposing massive US and NATO war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. His publications of leaked data also exposed Western diplomatic malfeasance in several countries, as well as illegal global spying on citizens by US intelligence agencies in collusion with British counterparts.
Assange has provided vital information to the international public which demonstrates systematic corruption by Washington and its allies. For telling the truth, he is now being persecuted, just as his whistleblowing colleagues, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are. Manning has been repeatedly imprisoned in the US, while Snowden has had to seek asylum in Russia for fear of being summarily incarcerated as a “traitor” if he returns to the US.
Nils Melzer, an internationally recognized expert on torture treatment, visited Assange back in May this year during his ongoing detention in Belmarsh Category A prison under conditions of solitary confinement. He concluded then that Assange was suffering psychological torture by the British authorities. His latest warning is based on up-to-date medical information pertaining to Assange’s health, and it makes for a grim assessment.