WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been moved to the hospital wing of the Belmarsh prison in the UK, prompting concerns about his health pending the hearing on his extradition to the US.
Assange’s health had already “significantly deteriorated” during the nearly seven years he spent inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and has continued to get worse over the seven weeks he has spent in Belmarsh, WikiLeaks said in a statement on Wednesday. View image on Twitter
“The decision of prison authorities to move him to the health ward speaks for itself,” said WikiLeaks, adding that Assange has lost a lot of weight and was barely able to speak to his Swedish lawyer last week.
“Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” his lawyer Per Samuelson told reporters after visiting Belmarsh, but the quote was barely reported in Sweden, let alone elsewhere.
Sweden has rejected Samuelson’s motion to delay Assange’s extradition hearing, though he was never charged with anything. Swedish investigators never interviewed Assange about claims of “sexual assault” that seem to have been trumped-up as a pretext to extradite him to the US in 2012, and prompted him to seek asylum in Ecuador.
The preliminary hearing on Washington’s extradition request is still scheduled for Thursday, May 30. The US has charged Assange with 18 counts under the Espionage Act, which carry a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.
“Julian’s case is of major historic significance. It will be remembered as the worst attack on press freedom in our time,”said WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, urging people everywhere to oppose their politicians, courts, police and prisons from being abused to “leave this black stain on history.”