WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyers will apply for bail over fears that prisons could become new hotbeds for COVID-19 infections, a statement from the "Don't Extradite Assange Campaign" said. According to the statement, the lawyers will emphasise that Assange is vulnerable to possible coronavirus infection.
"Prisons are considered epicentres for the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding and the propensity of the virus to spread in closed environments. Andrea Albutt, the President of the Prison Governors Association, has warned that 'there will be deaths' in UK prisons" the statement warned.
The campaign recalled that a number of countries, namely the US, Iran, and Spain, have already started releasing so-called "low-risk prisoners" to reduce the threat of local epidemics. The statement also stressed that Julian Assange qualifies for bail release under the guidelines of the Prison Advisory Service independent legal charity.
BREAKING: Assange’s lawyers have announced that they will be applying for bail at court this Wednesday, 25 March. They argue that he is in imminent danger from Coronavirus spreading through the prison population and should be released for his and other prisoners and staff safety. pic.twitter.com/pVjglPPi80— Don't Extradite Assange (@DEAcampaign) March 23, 2020
At the same time, the "Don't Extradite Assange Campaign" stated that hearings relevant to his possible release could be postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
It's unclear whether the British court will agree to his release, as last time Assange violated his bail conditions by obtaining asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He applied for it because he feared that the criminal case based on sexual misconduct allegations against him was a pretext for him to be extradited to the US. The latter is seeking to prosecute Assange for releasing secret Afghan war logs and State Department cables online.
Assange was stripped of his asylum status in April 2019 and imprisoned for breaching his bail until 22 September. At the same time, however, Washington has applied to have the whistleblower extradited, while the British court decided to keep him behind bars after the end of his term due to the risk that he could flee. He has been sitting in HMP Belmarsh prison since then, despite calls from UN officials, the Council of Europe and the OSCE Media Freedom Representative for him to be released.