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    Assange Deprived of Right to Properly Get Ready for Defence in Court - UN Rapporteur

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    GENEVA (Sputnik) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being deprived of the right to properly prepare himself for defence in court, since he has been prevented from spending enough time with his lawyers and has no proper access to relevant documents, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer said.

    "He doesn't have enough contacts with the lawyers, he cannot receive documents. The Swedish lawyer visited him to explain the Swedish prosecution case. He had a two-hour visit scheduled, he arrived on time, but Assange was brought to him 1 hour 45 minutes late, they were given 20 minutes only, and he had 400-page Swedish document to explain to him, and he couldn't leave it to him, and he [Assange] doesn't speak Swedish", Melzer said.

    The UN rapporteur stressed that the whistleblower was not being provided with means to exercise his right to prepare for defence in court.

    "These types of cruel violations of the proceedings are symptomatic for this case. He has the right to prepare himself for defence, but he is not given the means to do so," Melzer said.

    According to Melzer, despite the fact the WikiLeaks founder is not being held in a super-maximum security unit, he still enjoyed little contact with the outside world, which also prevented him from getting ready for hearings.

    "They [prisoners] have 4 hours per day when the doors are open in the morning and in the afternoon, and the other half of the day they will only be working. But his contacts with the outside world are very limited, he [Assange] doesn't have a mobile phone, he has no Internet, he doesn't even have a computer to work on, even without Internet, and there are thousands of files and documents that he has to deal with", the UN rapporteur said.

    Melzer visited Assange in prison on 9 May and sent a letter to the UK government, as well as to Sweden, Ecuador, and the United States, calling on these countries to not extradite Assange. According to the rapporteur, the United Kingdom has not replied yet, but formally has 60 days to do so, which is until the end of July.

    J. Assange in Prison Belmarsh in London
    © Ruptly . Ruptly
    J. Assange in Prison Belmarsh in London

    The UN official took two medical experts with him during his visit of Assange, who established that the WikiLeaks founder had been exposed to long-time psychological torture, which Melzer said clearly in his recently published report.

    "It has to be investigated, the causes and the effects … If a deliberate violation is discovered, they have to prosecute it. But they don't do anything", Melzer said.

    Asked if Assange could apply to the European Court of Human Rights over his exposure to psychological torture, the expert said that he would have to try all options at the national level first.

    Assange was sent to Belmarsh for violating his bail conditions when he took refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges and possible subsequent extradition to the United States.

    The sexual charges in Sweden were initially dropped while Assange was still residing in the embassy, but the case was reopened after he was arrested. A Swedish court, however, refused to arrest the WikiLeaks founder in absentia, meaning that Sweden would not be able to demand his extradition.

    Assange is facing extradition to the United States for classified government data leaks. US authorities have already indicted him on charges bearing an up to 175-year prison term.

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