Julian Assange has somehow become a sort of polarizing figure in the world of politics.
As the figurehead of Wikileaks, his efforts to expose the wrongdoing of governments around the world have been instrumental in the populist revival of the early 21st century. The state secrets are no longer behind lock and key, and those outside of the ruling class have found a new tool in their fight against tyranny.
But, as the media continues to divide the world up into politically-identifiable sections, Assange’s lack of discrimination when it came to his victims has become naturally divisive.
Now, as he awaits a possible extradition to the United States on charges of espionage, (a laughable charge at that), his allegedly poor health could keep him overseas for the foreseeable future.
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Julian Assange is showing all the symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to psychological torture and should not be extradited to the US, according to a senior UN expert who visited him in prison.
Nils Melzer, UN’s special rapporteur on torture, is expected to make his appeal to the UK government on Friday. It comes after Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, was said by his lawyers to be too ill to appear by video link for the latest court hearing of the case on Thursday.
Assange has been moved to the health ward of Belmarsh prison, London, where he has been serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail while fighting extradition to the US. He is accused of violating the Espionage Act by publishing secret documents containing the names of confidential US military and diplomatic sources.
Descriptions of his affliction are quite serious.
“Physically there were ailments but that side of things are being addressed by the prison health service and there was nothing urgent or dangerous in that way,” Melzer said.
“What was worrying was the psychological side and his constant anxiety. It was perceptible that he had a sense of being under threat from everyone. He understood what my function was but it’s more that he was extremely agitated and busy with his own thoughts. It was difficult to have a very structured conversation with him.”
Assange’s lawyer has long argued that his client was severely under the weather, stating bluntly this week that he is “far from well”.
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