Assange's Prosecution by US a Disaster for Human Rights, Intl Law - Physician

© AP Photo / Matt Dunham / Banners in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are displayed outside Westminster magistrates court where he was appearing in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019.
Banners in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are displayed outside Westminster magistrates court where he was appearing in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. - Sputnik International
A Swedish judge has rejected the detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in absentia, blocking prosecution efforts to extradite him to Sweden to face trial over sexual assault allegations. Assange has vehemently denied these allegations.

He is currently serving a 50-week sentence in a UK prison for skipping bail in 2012, when he claimed asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy. On 11 April, Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status and the British authorities arrested and removed him from the embassy.

Sean Love, a physician in the Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who has met with Julian Assange several times believes that the charges against the WikiLeaks founder are being misreported.

“We have to remember that no one has charged Mr Assange with ‘rape’, which has been consistently misreported in Western media outlets, in part as an attempt to smear Mr Assange’s character”, he told Sputnik.

READ MORE: Vault 7 Charges Not Pursued for Assange, but He Still Faces Life for Espionage

Swedish authorities questioned Assange over allegations of sexual assault back in 2010, and he has cooperated with the investigation, the case was closed, and he was allowed to leave the country, but according to Mr Love “Sweden re-opened the investigation in November 2010 under direct pressure from the UK”.

In this file photo taken on May 01, 2019 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court in London, after having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012 - Sputnik International
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Bean, a movement supporting Assange and other whistleblowers said that the “investigation was initially closed due to lack of any evidence of a criminal act, and the Swedish prosecutors have still not brought any charges after nearly a decade of investigating”, adding that they see two ways this may develop: “Either the investigation will be closed, or charges will be laid and then an extradition order could follow”.

Mr Love also explained that Assange’s never feared questions over this case, he was concerned that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would face further extradition to the United States, where, as the physician noted “Mr Assange has good cause to believe that his rights would be violated and he would be treated without due process of law on account of his political beliefs”.

The Swedish court's decision also came just days after last week Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that Julian Assange is displaying “extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma” after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. Melzer also accused the United States, United Kingdom, and Sweden of “ganging up” on the WikiLeaks founder and subjecting him to “psychological torture”.

READ MORE: Assange Hospitalized: He Was Psychologically Tortured, Says UN Official

The UN representative made these statements after visiting Assange in prison.

Mr Love said that it is not a coincidence that the Swedish ruling came three days after the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture “denounced the mistreatment of Mr Assange in the harshest possible terms”.

“After years of seeking his extradition, Sweden now says they will be willing to question Mr Assange in the UK, something Mr Assange has stated that he has always been willing to do. This is a very significant development, and I think represents a changing tide with regards to Mr Assange’s legal situation and public perception”.

As a physician, Mr Love also said that he shared Mr Melzer’s assessment, noting that Assange's health and mental state will only be exacerbated by his imprisonment in the UK and in the US if he's extradited there, also saying that the British authorities are behind it.

Demonstrators protest outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a U.S. extradition request hearing, in London, Britain May 2, 2019 - Sputnik International
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“UK officials have no justification, and the UK government is in violation of international law and multiple UN rulings calling for Mr Assange’s immediate release. The UK government is culpable in the prolonged torture and mistreatment of Mr Assange. Indeed, Mr Assange’s life is threatened, both on account of his circumstances in prison as well as repeated public threats on his life made by various government officials in the US, UK, and elsewhere. This is truly a disaster for human rights and international law”.

While the Bean movement said that the threats to Assange's life are real. “He has had a decade of accumulated threats, both physical and mental. These include overt threats to murder him by top political and media figures, to confinement for years in a small space without access to sunlight or necessary medical care, to being gagged from public speech and isolated from visitors in the Embassy for the year leading up to his arrest, to his current regime of imprisonment which is akin to solitary confinement, and lacking the resources with which to properly defend himself. A decade of being pursued by the world's most powerful state is in itself an intense and ever present stress that would have broken many others”.

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On 23 May the US Justice Department announced 17 new charges against Assange under the Espionage Act in a move to charge him with publishing classified material that critics say challenges the First Amendment.

Condemning Assange is one of the few areas of bipartisan consensus in the US. “Republicans tend to dislike Mr Assange for his activities as a journalist revealing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan”, Mr Love explained. While Democrats believe Assange helped Trump win the election in 2016 after publishing materials damaging to Clinton.

“The reality is that any journalist would have published those materials, liberal or conservative, as they were in the public interest”, the expert stated.

The New York Times building in New York, NY across from the Port Authority. - Sputnik International
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The Bean movement said that the leaks were non-partisan and exposed both the Democrats and the Republicans, while both sides “vigorously attempt to shut down exposure of war crimes and other wrongdoing”.

“So it's up to all of us — we either free Julian Assange or we stand by and allow our societies' descent into dystopia to continue unabated”, Bean stressed.

WiliLeaks has claimed that Assange will serve 175 years in prison if he’s found guilty of all 17 charges filed by the US DoJ. In a statement following the indictment, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson called them “the evil of lawlessness in its purest form”.

While Mr Love argued that Assange should be released immediately and expressed hope that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States by Britain.

READ MORE: SEP Slams Liberal Press & MPs in Europe, US Over Backing Assange's Extradition

“As more details about Mr Assange’s mistreatment emerge, I expect the UK courts to not extradite Mr Assange to the US. The UK is ultimately going to have to decide whether or not it will let the Trump administration threaten the free press and its own Constitution by prosecuting Mr Assange for his activities as a journalist”, the physician concluded.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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