‘Julian Assange receives first visitors in six months: “He is in a lot of pain”, Oscar Grenfell, 28 August 2020 (with permission)
“Julian Assange received his first visitors in six months, less than a fortnight out from British court hearings for the extradition of the persecuted WikiLeaks publisher to the US, where he faces life imprisonment for exposing American war crimes.
Stella Morris, Assange’s partner and an internationally-respected human rights attorney, was allowed to meet with the WikiLeaks founder earlier this week, after authorities at London’s Belmarsh Prison eased restrictions introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time that Morris and their two young children Gabriel and Max had seen Assange since March 22.
The visit is welcome news for all supporters of Assange and democratic rights. But it has underscored the brutal conditions in which he is held by the British authorities, despite not having been convicted of any crime, and has sparked renewed fears that his health is continuing to deteriorate.
In comments to the PA news agency after the visit, Morris said that the experience had been “incredibly stressful” but that she was relieved to have been able to see Assange.
“We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children,” Morris said. “Julian said it was the first time he had been given a mask because things are very different behind the doors.”
She added: “At least he got to see the children, even though he couldn’t touch them. The children were both calm. We all remained seated the whole time.”
Morris said that the older of the boys, Gabriel, who is three-years old, showed off his abilities to count and to recite the alphabet. Gabriel was born when Assange was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy, where his arbitrary detention was enforced by British threats to arrest him if he set foot outside the building.
The infant child was immediately targeted for intrusive surveillance and other human rights violations by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Max, who is one-year-old, first met Assange in 2019 at Belmarsh, a facility dubbed Britain’s Guantánamo Bay.
Speaking of Assange’s physical condition, Morris said: “He is in a lot of pain.” She stated that he continues to suffer from a frozen shoulder, a long-term condition compounded by a lack of adequate medical treatment. He had also recently sprained his ankle.
“I could not see him very clearly because of the visors, but he looked a lot thinner. He was wearing a yellow armband to indicate his level of prisoner status, and you could see how thin his arms were,” Morris explained.
The confirmation that Assange has not been provided with a mask is evidence that the British state wants him dead. That the most high-profile political prisoner in the world, detained in a country falsely held up as a beacon of democracy, was not provided with the most basic protection during an unprecedented global pandemic sums up the criminality of the decade-long persecution of Assange.
At the height of the crisis, hundreds of prison staff and inmates at penitentiaries across the country were struck down by the virus, including in Belmarsh. Warnings from medical experts that Assange was particularly susceptible to succumbing to COVID-19, given his chronic respiratory issues, were ignored and an application for bail contemptuously dismissed.
The calls for Assange’s release on medical grounds during the pandemic followed statements of concern by doctors from around the world since November last year that Assange could die in Belmarsh due to a lack of adequate treatment.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer has repeatedly condemned Assange’s imprisonment as a continuation of government abuses that have resulted in the WikiLeaks founder displaying the medically-verifiable symptoms of psychological torture.” [long snip]
“The unprecedented persecution of the WikiLeaks publisher has also been treated as a non-event by the corporate media, which enjoy the closest ties with the military and intelligence agencies that have spearheaded the pursuit of Assange.
The substantial public support that Assange enjoys, which stands in marked contrast to the stance of the political and media establishments, has been expressed in the response to an online fundraiser for his legal expenses, initiated last week by Morris.
The initial target of £25,000 was achieved within days. A stretch goal of £50,000 has since been surpassed and the appeal is well on its way to the new target of £75,000. As of this writing, almost £68,000 has been contributed by 1,563 people from around the world.”
‘Join my fight to free Julian Assange and stop US extradition’ by Stella Moris
“I am the partner of Julian Assange and the mother of his two sons. I am fighting against his extradition to the United States, September 3, 2020
“Only four days to go…
As we draw closer to Julian’s extradition hearing on Monday, I would like to share the latest news with you.
If anyone would like to come down to the Old Bailey on Monday there will be a safe socially-distanced demonstration taking place outside the court from 9am. Everyone is very welcome to come and show their support for Julian.
There will be a stage set up near the entrance to the Old Bailey. Speakers will include Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, John Shipton, Julian’s father, and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
I was not able to speak to Julian at all for a few days, after seeing him in Belmarsh last week. But I am pleased to say we have been able to talk on the phone this week and that has been a great comfort.
Julian will not have seen the case in full before he arrives into the court room. The other side continues to submit documents after deadlines have past. Since legal documents have to be posted to Belmarsh prison as hard copies, they won’t reach Julian in time before the hearing starts.
When he arrives in court on Monday morning it will be first time Julian will have seen his legal team in person in over six months. However, his lawyers are dealing with all the last-minute details of the case and making final preparations for Monday.
Thank you once again for your support in this very important case. More and more people are waking up to the realisation that this hearing has huge ramifications for other publishers and journalists.
Julian faces 175 years in prison in the United States for the ‘crime’ of journalism and exposing truths. If the UK court decides to extradite Julian, that sets a precedent for any publisher or journalist to be put on trial abroad if a country does not like something that has been written about them.
However, there are still many people who are not aware of the consequences this case will have on freedom of speech. Please continue to share details with your friends and contacts about the extradition hearing and of this fundraising appeal.
(with a Pledge button)
‘Call to action: PROTEST at the Old Bailey as Assange hearing starts’, Sept. 4, 2020, dontextraditeassange.com
“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be back in court for the final part of his extradition hearing this Monday (7 September 2020) at the Old Bailey in London.
‘This is the press freedom case of the 21st century’, said John Rees of the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘anyone who cares about freedom of speech, about the ability of journalists to tell the public what the powerful would prefer to remain hidden should make their way to the Old Bailey and let their voice be heard’.
Julian Assange is sought by the Trump administration for publishing US government documents which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. The politically motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalise basic journalistic activity. Assange’s defence team will argue that the extradition itself is an abuse of the UK extradition process. If convicted Julian Assange faces a sentence of 175 years, likely to be spent in extreme isolation.
Julian Assange has been held at HMP Belmarsh high security prison in London, his legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March due to COVID19. The case is anticipated to last at least three weeks.
Join the socially-distanced PROTEST with us on Monday 9am at Old Bailey, EC4M 7EH London.”
(followed by >): Special Press Briefing
‘Julian Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, on their secret family; The WikiLeaks founder secretly fathered two children while holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy. Now he is in prison fighting extradition to the US and the hearing that will decide his fate resumes on Monday. His fiancée tells Kirsty Lang their extraordinary love story’, thetimes.co.uk, Sept. 6, 2020
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)