UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer has published a letter to the UK government, asking it to end the detention of Julian Assange, warning that his health may soon reach a “critical” stage, including risk of death.
The scathing letter, which was penned by Melzer on October 29, urged the British authorities to review the WikiLeaks founder’s prison conditions or release him immediately. However, having received no response from London in the last 60 days, Melzer decided to go public and publish the document in full on Tuesday.
(2/6) My official findings, supported by medical experts, unquestionably provide “reasonable ground to believe” that UK officials contributed to #Assange’s psychological torture or ill-treatment, whether through perpetration, attempt, complicity or other forms of participation.
— Nils Melzer (@NilsMelzer) 31 декабря 2019 г.
In the letter, the UN special rapporteur described the detention regime that Assange has to endure in the clandestine top-security Belmarsh Prison as “unnecessary, disproportionate, and discriminatory.” He said it was designed to “perpetuate [Assange’s] exposure to psychological torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Melzer proceeded to admonish the British government for taking four months to respond to his previous letter of May 27, which was penned after Melzer visited Assange in the high-security facility on May 9.
Melzer wrote that a “thorough forensic and psychiatric examination” performed during his visit showed “a clear pattern of symptoms typical for persons having been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time.” But instead of heeding his recommendations, the UK turned a blind eye to the findings, preferring not to do anything to alleviate the journalist’s suffering.
Noting that his conclusions have been backed by medical experts, Melzer said they provide “reasonable ground to believe” that British officials “have contributed” to Assange’s torture or ill-treatment at the hands of the UK penitentiary system.
“I am very concerned that, if the UK does not take urgent remedial measures to alleviate Mr Assange’s situation, his health may soon reach a critical stage, including the risk of death”
The envoy noted that matters could go further south for Assange if the UK follows through with his extradition to the US,