Assange awaits in prison the decision on his life and his future

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Julian Asange, in a file image. / Reuters

WikiLeaks founder is at risk of suicide if extradited to the United States

LOURDES GÓMEZ London Correspondent

His bad appearance bothers me. I saw him very thin, very sick ». This is how the lawyer Stella Moris described her partner and father of her children, Julian Assange, before the London Courthouse, where this week the second judicial round of the United States battle to extradite the founder of WikiLeaks took place. “The US must drop the charges if it wants to treat Julian well and fairly. They must release him because he is suffering right now, “he declared to the mass of supporters who denounced the persecution and called for the freedom of the Australian journalist and computer scientist during the two days of public hearings.

Assange has been imprisoned in the London maximum security prison of Belmarsh since April 2019, when the government of Lenín Moreno withdrew his refugee status and Scotland Yard agents forcibly removed him from the Ecuadorian embassy. He turned 50 last July and has been confined in enclosed spaces for almost a decade. “His situation is very tough,” says lawyer Aitor Martínez Jiménez, who attended the appeal trial. “He was present for a few minutes, by videoconference, and he was seen extremely thin, deteriorated and practically reclined on a table without the strength to stay upright. In the second session, he could not even reach the videolink room, ”he explains to this newspaper.

The Joe Biden administration took over from the process and reactivated the appeal against the sentence of the Westminster court, which last January blocked the delivery due to the “substantial” risk that Assange would commit suicide in a US jail. James Lewis, legal representative of the United States, argued that Judge Vanessa Baraitser “erred” in her assessment of the severity of the defendant’s mental health and explained that “diplomatic assurances” now offered by Washington mitigate, in any case, the danger of May the announced death come true.

Breach of guarantees

“The United States has repeatedly and systematically violated diplomatic assurances in the context of extraditions with multiple European countries. A multitude of cases have been compiled in which the United States was bound by diplomatic guarantees and, once that person was handed over, breached those guarantees, ”Martínez emphasizes. Before the British judges, the case of David Mendoza Herrarte was mentioned, which culminated in a conviction of the Spanish Government by the Supreme Court “for not having been able to get the United States to comply with the diplomatic guarantee granted to its citizen,” according to the lawyer.

Martínez is part of the Australian’s legal team and directs the investigation of the Spanish National Court that is uncovering evidence of the intense espionage to which Assange and his environment were subjected, from legal and medical advisers to his girlfriend and children. Testimonies from this inquiry resounded this week in the High Court of England and Wales to rebut essential points of the appellants’ arguments.

They were used, in particular, to justify the “ethical dilemma” faced by the defense’s main medical witness, neurosychiatrist Michael Kopelman, in writing his preliminary assessment of Assange’s health. The professor emeritus of King’s College did not mention, in his first report, the two children he had with Moris during his confinement at the Embassy in order to protect the “safety and well-being” of the family. Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald stressed that the trial magistrate has acknowledged that the omission was “misleading and inadmissible, although an understandably humane response to Moris’ plight.”

Fitzgerald referred to testimonies from the Spanish case about “extreme surveillance measures against Assange, the monitoring of Stella Moris and her children, discussions about kidnapping or poisoning him.” She herself has spoken of the panic that happened when feeling “on the target” of “mercenaries” with “plans and cuttings” to “assassinate in London” the founder of WikiLeaks, who is accused of hacking and breaking the law of espionage by post confidential documents. By then, she had already legally changed her identity and only for her family was she still Sara González Devant. “It would be unthinkable that a UK court could extradite a journalist to the country that has conspired to assassinate him,” he protested to the High Court. The judges’ decision is expected before the end of the year.

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