The UN Torture Expert, Nils Melzer, has strongly condemned the psychological torture inflicted upon WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by a coalition of countries led by the United States and United Kingdom.
The WikiLeaks publisher has spent over 7 weeks in Belmarsh prison where his health has deteriorated to such an extent that he is now displaying symptoms of, “intense psychological trauma.’’ Per Samuelson, Julian Assange’s lawyer, visited his client last Friday and has said that Assange’s health was in such a poor state of health that,”it was not possible to conduct normal conversation with him.’’
On 10 May Julian Assange was visited by Nils Melzer and two experts who specialise in examining potential victims of torture. Their meeting with Assange led them to issue their damning verdict upon the psychological abuse he has faced at the hands of Britain, America, Sweden and Ecuador.
Collective persecution of Julian Assange
The United States recently announced that it was adding a further 17 charges to the indictment against Assange that could add 175 years to any prison sentence.
The coordinated nature of the international attacks upon Assange are further illustrated by the recent actions of Sweden and Ecuador.
Sweden’s deputy director of prosecutions, Eve Marie Persson, has announced that the 2010 rape case against Assange will be reopened. She stated at a press conference that Swedish prosecutors want to interview Assange and extradite him once he had served his 50 week jail sentence in Britain imposed for a minor bail violation.
This was shortly followed by Ecuador stepping up its attacks upon Assange by authorising the search of the room where Assange was residing in its London embassy. Its Attorney General has agreed to violate international law by handing over to the U.S. any computers, phones, thumb drives, CD’s and any other documents that its illegal search may have turned up on 20 May.
Psychological Torture of Julian Assange
Today Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, issued a statement regarding his 9 May visit to Assange in Belmarsh maximum security prison. Melzer declared that since 2010 Julian Assange has faced:
“... a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden and, more recently, Ecuador.”
According to Melzer this abuse and intimidation has been part of a concerted campaign by the media, politicians and the legal system all designed to break Assange. This has included:
“ … an endless stream of humiliating, debasing and threatening statements in the press and on social media, but also by senior political figures, and even by judicial magistrates involved in proceedings against Assange.’’
“ In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”
At their meeting on 9 May two UN experts who specialise in examining potential victims of torture carried out a thorough medical examination that led them to conclude:
“ It was obvious that Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years. Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.
“The evidence is overwhelming and clear, Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.’’
One of the medical experts went further and condemned in quite an unprecedented way the collective persecution of Assange by a group of powerful nations led by the United States:
“ I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr. Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity. By displaying an attitude of complacency at best, and of complicity at worst, these governments have created an atmosphere of impunity encouraging Mr. Assange’s uninhibited vilification and abuse.”
Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has written to the governments of the US, UK , Sweden and Ecuador calling upon them to refrain from any further persecution of Julian Assange. Melzer further appealed to the crisis ridden government of Britain not to extradite Assange to the United States and comply with its international obligations regarding his human rights such as unimpeded access to legal representation.
Melzer’s statement is an incredibly powerful condemnation of the US and its allies by pointing out that behind the collective persecution of the WikiLeaks editor has been an attempt to criminalise investigative journalism that has exposed torture and war crimes by American forces. He concluded his statement by forcefully declaring that:
“ In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law. The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”
The crisis ridden UK government, that is complicit in Saudi war crimes in Yemen, has had the temerity to declare that it will write to the UN in due course to rebut the charges against it. It is incumbent upon the opposition Labour Party to come off the fence and apply pressure to the Conservative government to comply with its international obligations regarding Julian Assange. As Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor in chief, has stated this will only happen if ordinary people apply pressure upon the British establishment:
“ Julian’s case is of major historical significance. It will be remembered as the worst attack on press freedom in our time. The People need to voice their condemnation; it is their politicians, their courts, their police, their prisons that are being abused to leave this black stain on history. Please act now to avert this shame.’’
This article originally appeared on Global Research