Economic Undertakings

Doctors demand immediate release of Julian Assange

More than 300 doctors and healthcare professionals around the world have called for the immediate release of Julian Assange from UK prison due to the severe deterioration in his health indicated by the stroke he suffered in October during his extradition hearing before the High Court of the United Kingdom. .

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (AP Photo / Frank Augstein, file)

On December 22, Doctors for Assange published an open letter, published below, to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, imploring him to seek the urgent release of the WikiLeaks founder on medical grounds. The letter makes the request based on recent statements by Joyce suggesting that the US extradition request against Assange should now be dropped.

What hundreds of medics have again written, warning of Assange’s dire medical situation, highlights the grave dangers he faces as he spends another year behind bars with extradition over his head and the prospect of being in jail for life on false charges of US espionage. .

It should be noted, however, that Joyce’s comments were entirely hypocritical. They were designed to meet the growing popular demand for Assange’s freedom and have remained consistent with the long-standing refusal of Australian governments, both Liberal-National and Labor, to intervene on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen.

“I have no power in Britain or the United States on these issues. I have no rights in UK courts, ”Joyce said in her Nine Media editorial. This echoes the position of the government itself, which is to ‘respect the UK legal process’, even though the UK High Court decision of December 10 to pave the way for Assange’s extradition is another pseudo-legal parody on the part of the British justice system.

The Australian government has reaffirmed its position in response to every previous call by Doctors for Assange to release him since 2019. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne reiterated that in an April 24 response to a previous letter from Doctors for Assange calling on the government to seek the release of Assange due to his dangerously poor health after years of imprisonment and psychological torture. In that response, now published by medics for the first time as an appendix to their new letter, Payne again contemptuously said: “Australia has no position in this process.

In reality, successive Australian governments are directly responsible for Assange’s persecution. Starting with the Greens-backed Gillard Labor government in 2010, they were embroiled in a plot with the US, UK and Swedish governments to send Assange to jail and hand him over to the US due to the powerful and widely exhibited exposures. read from WikiLeaks. atrocities, mass espionage and regime change operations by the United States and its allies.

The WSWS and the Socialist Equality Parties continue to fight for the development of a mass movement in the working class for the freedom of Assange as part of the struggle against the entire capitalist economic and social order who is responsible for his incarceration. This week, we hosted an online emergency public meeting to discuss how to move this fight forward.


Doctors for Assange

Letter to Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, December 22, 2021

Dear Deputy Prime Minister,

We would like to thank you and congratulate you on your recent statements calling for the dropping of the US extradition request against Julian Assange.

We are a group of over 300 doctors and healthcare professionals around the world concerned about the health of Julian Assange and the health of our democracies. We have been writing to the governments of the UK, Australia and the US since November 2019 warning that Julian Assange is in a fragile state of health due to his treatment in the UK in accordance with unprecedented US charges, and that he could die in prison. We have called for the release of Mr Assange on urgent medical grounds, as an unconvicted and non-violent Australian journalist and editor held in a top security prison in the UK for journalistic activity. Our letters received wide media coverage, including in major news outlets around the world, and our warnings were published twice in The Lancet.

We are now writing to you in light of recent information that Mr. Assange suffered what has been described as a mini-stroke, showing signs of neurological damage. As concerned doctors, many of whom reside in Australia, we implore you, as Australian Deputy Prime Minister, to intervene with the UK government to demand the immediate release of Mr Assange on urgent medical grounds.

You raise a critically important point that Mr. Assange did not commit any crime, neither in the UK nor in Australia, where the publications for which he is imprisoned took place. He is not guilty and charged with nothing in the UK. In addition, the crimes under espionage law that he is accused of committing in the United States are political in nature. As citizens, we are alarmed that the extraterritorial persecution of Mr. Assange threatens national sovereignty, the rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press around the world. As doctors, we are alarmed that the news of Mr Assange’s mini-stroke, against a backdrop of dramatic physical deterioration, underscores that his incarceration threatens his health and even his life as well.

It is important to note, as we have warned for two years, that a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke, is a predictable and preventable result of the persecution Mr. Assange has suffered and continues to suffer. In our first letter to the Australian government, in December 2019, to ensure it was made aware of the medical risks to its citizen jailed for journalism, we wrote:

(1) Julian Assange’s case is medically complex and precarious for two main reasons: (1) Mr. Assange was assessed as suffering from “all the symptoms typical of prolonged exposure to psychological torture” by the Special Rapporteur of United Nations on Torture and its Medical Team. ; and

(2) Mr. Assange’s medical status as a victim of torture is exacerbated by years of medical neglect and fragile health at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

[Such a case] involves a potentially precarious interaction of psychological and medical factors… Via immunosuppressive and cardiovascular mechanisms, persistently and chronically activated stress physiology causes susceptibility to a range of diseases and potentially catastrophic illnesses, including but not limited to limit, cancer and cardiovascular pathology.

To ensure the Australian government is also made aware of the risks of its own inaction, we wrote:

If Mr Assange dies in a UK prison, people will want to know what you, Minister [Payne], did to prevent his death.

(Please see attached Annexes 1-5 for all correspondence with the Australian Government).

Following the announcement that Mr. Assange had suffered a cardiovascular event, under extreme stress on the first day of his High Court hearing on October 27, we issued a statement (please see Annex 6) on the 12th. December, noting that:

This dangerous deterioration in Mr. Assange’s health underscores the urgent concerns raised by Doctors for Assange over the past two years. Therefore, once again Doctors for Assange calls for Mr. Assange to be released from prison so that he can access consistent, high-quality and independent medical care, which he is unable to obtain in the past. Belmarsh prison.

Regarding the High Court upholding the US extradition request despite Mr Assange’s serious deterioration in health, we wrote:

The assurances that Mr. Assange will not be subjected to harsh conditions of detention by the very agency that plotted to kidnap and assassinate him are preposterous. For the Supreme Court accepting such a ludicrous proposal, describing assurances as “solemn commitments offered by one government to another”, seriously calls into question the independence, impartiality and integrity of British justice.

Above all, in its “solemn commitments”, accepted by the High Court, the American government “keep the powerTo impose special administrative measures on Mr. Assange and assign him to ADX Florence, two of the harshest and most brutal detention conditions in the United States. Both facilities violate the Convention Against Torture, to which Australia is a party, and epitomize the oppressive US detention conditions that were the basis for the denial of the US extradition request.

In light of these alarming medical and legal developments, we are now writing to ask you to consider Mr Assange’s serious state of health, and the real possibility that a continuation of his unjustifiable detention in the UK may arise. prove fatal, even before any extradition to the United States.

Perhaps our concerns were previously dismissed by your colleagues as hyperbolic. They are not. On the issue of cardiovascular pathology, we were right. We do not wish to be right on the issue of Mr. Assange’s survival.

We fear Mr. Assange’s apparent mini-stroke may be the tip of a medical iceberg. Indeed, his symptoms suggest it. It is therefore imperative that Mr. Assange be released from prison, where his health will continue to deteriorate further and his complex medical needs cannot be met, and that he receive independent and high-quality medical care immediately.

We therefore implore you, as Deputy Prime Minister, to intervene with the UK government to demand the immediate release of Mr Assange on urgent medical grounds. We reiterate that he is an Australian citizen, innocent in the eyes of the law, guilty and charged with nothing in the UK.


Doctors for Assange

Email: [email protected]