The UN rapporteur on torture has accused British and American authorities of waging a one-sided war against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, “violating due process at every step,” as Assange’s condition in prison deteriorates.
Speaking at a demonstration in Berlin on Wednesday, rapporteur Nils Melzer told RT that if the judicial institutions prosecuting Assange were “doing their job according to the law,” then they would take the WikiLeaks head’s declining health into account in their extradition efforts. However, Melzer does not expect any reprieve for Assange.
The whole system is skewed against him. It’s not a case of prosecution, it’s a case of persecution, and that’s how persecution works.
Since his forced eviction from London’s Ecuadorian embassy in April, Assange has languished in Belmarsh Prison, first facing extradition to Sweden for a since-dropped sexual assault case, and now to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison if found guilty of espionage. The spying charges stem from his publication of classified military documents, detailing alleged war crimes by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Melzer has sounded the alarm about the conditions of Assange’s detention before, accusing British authorities of “psychological torture,” and warning that he could face further torture if extradited to the US. The rapporteur is not alone in raising these concerns either. In an open letter addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday, over 60 medical professionals from across the world voiced their concern over the physical and mental health of the publisher, warning that “Mr. Assange could die in prison.”
Melzer met Assange in prison six months ago, and described his situation as “critical.” Since then, the torture envoy said that the WikiLeaks founder’s conditions have been “getting more oppressive and there’s more intense surveillance and stricter isolation.”
During Melzer’s visit, Assange was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, and was denied access to the prison’s library and gym. He is reportedly suffering from depression,