The WikiLeaks founder, who is fighting his extradition to the US, is probably fighting for his life too. More than 60 doctors shared their concerns over the constantly deteriorating health of Julian Assange inside a high-security British jail.
In an open letter, the doctors expressed their fears that the 48-year-old Australian could possibly die due to his health conditions. In a letter to the British Home Secretary Priti Patel, they called for Assange to be sent to a university teaching hospital from the Belmarsh prison in southeast London.
They wrote, “We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange.”
Julian Assange was taken into custody in April at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, following a treaty signed between the US and Britain. Since then, the US has been demanding his extradition on charges filed under the Espionage Act. Assange could end up with a sentence of up to 175 years in the US prison, after facing 18 counts, including conspiracy to hack government computers.
In their 16-page open letter, the health professionals expressed their “concerns about Assange’s fitness”, while going through the full extradition hearing scheduled for February. These doctors were reportedly from the United States, Australia, Britain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka, Poland.
“Mr Assange requires urgent expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health,” they wrote. “Any medical treatment indicated should be administered in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital (tertiary care).”
Using his organization, WikiLeaks, Assange in 2010 exposed the US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq by publishing classified military and diplomatic files. With the months passing, he has been making all possible efforts to circumvent the US bid to extradite him, while his health too has been declining.
The 60 doctors raising concerns over his well-being based their assessment on “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his court appearance in London on October 21 and a report on November 1 by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer.
UN’s independent rights expert said that his “continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life”.
The 60 physicians from different countries said, “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.”
Julian Assange has earlier complained about the conditions of the prison in Belmarsh, in which he was being kept. The Australian has undeniably committed cyber crimes in the past, but his declining conditions do call for the authorities to show some mercy and at least grant him better treatment facilities. Will they consider the doctors’ letter sighting death in prison for Assange?