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Doctors for Assange Say UK May be Liable for His Torture

Britain, COVID-19, Human Rights, International, WikiLeaks
June 25, 2020

In a new letter to the British medical journal The Lancet, Doctors for Assange say that the British government may be held legally responsible for the torture of the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher.

Here is the doctors’ statement followed by the letter to The Lancet and the doctors’ letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland.

UK officials may be legally culpable in the torture of Julian Assange

Doctors have warned that UK officials could be held accountable for the torture of Julian Assange in an open letter published in The Lancet on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The 216 undersigned physicians and psychologists from 33 countries have accused UK and U.S. government officials of intensifying Julian Assange’s psychological torture in spite of the world’s leading authorities on human rights and international law calling for his immediate release from prison.

Clinical Psychologist and Australian co-author of the publication, ‘The ongoing torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange’, Dr Lissa Johnson said the failure to properly treat Mr Assange may amount to an act of torture in which state officials, from parliament to court to prison, risk being judged complicit.

“Our letter is published just two days after the US Department of Justice announced a new superseding indictment against Assange representing yet another escalation in psychological torture tactics,” said Dr Johnson.

“Introducing extra charges at this late stage, right before the defence evidence deadline and over a year after the indictment deadline, when documents given to the prison generally take two weeks to be passed on, when he has not been supplied with a computer and when he is unable to meet with lawyers under Coronavirus lockdown, serves to ramp up his helplessness in the face of threat and is a key psychological torture tactic,” she said.

The doctors note that torture is prohibited under UK law, warning that UK officials could be judged “complicit”, including for their “silent acquiescence and consent”. They write that Assange at medical risk due to escalating abuses of his “fundamental human and legal rights at the hands of judicial, prison, and contracted security authorities”.

The letter follows Julian Assange’s failure to attend four court hearings in a row on medical grounds. The authors charge UK and US authorities with “collective persecution and judicial harassment” in which “Mr Assange has been unable to engage in his own defence or even participate in his own hearings.”

A copy of the Lancet letter has been sent to the UK Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland. It coincides with two open letters to Buckland from 36 members of the European Parliament and 11 current and former politicians from 9 nations, calling for Julian Assange’s immediate release on bail in light of Covid-19, which places him “at grave medical risk” given his medical history, including persistent respiratory issues, the doctors warn.

In a 60 Minutes Australia interview on Sunday night, Julian Assange’s fiancé, Stella Moris, stressed that Julian Assange is “very unwell”, expressing her fears that he may not survive.

NHS doctor and producer of the documentary ‘The Great NHS Heist’, Dr Bob Gill, said, “Mr Assange’s life is being slowly extinguished to punish him and silence others who dare to bravely expose the lies of the powerful. Left unchallenged this single act threatens the very existence of civil society and propagates our collective drift to corporate-state authoritarianism.”

Dr Paul Hobday, author of The Deceit Syndrome, added: “The psychological torture and violation of  the fundamental rights of a journalist and publisher who has been convicted of no crime should alarm and disgust anyone believing in an accountable transparent and fair democracy. This should haunt for a long time those responsible and those who remain silent….All journalists should be wary and vigilant of this perilous atmosphere.” 

Professor Thomas G. Schulze of the Executive Committee of the World Psychiatric Association said, “As a fellow human being, as a doctor, in particular as a psychiatrist, it is my duty to report torture wherever and whenever it happens.” Schulze added that physical and psychological torture are “equally devastating”.

Professor William R. Hogan of the University of Florida stressed that “Mr. Assange must be released immediately, to treat the effects of his torture inflicted by an English court of law.”


Letter to The Lancet