The UN rapporteur against torture, Nils Melzer, today called on the British authorities for the immediate release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 10 years after his first arrest and when a serious outbreak of covid-19 was known in the prison where you are.
In a statement, the rapporteur noted that 65 of the 160 inmates of the London prison of Belmarsh, where Assange has been since May 2019, have tested positive for covid-19.
“Assange is neither convicted nor threatens anyone, so his prolonged and solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate, clearly lacking any legal basis,” Melzer said.
The rapporteur recalled that the initial arrests in December 2010 were based on accusations of alleged sexual crimes in Sweden that were finally withdrawn due to lack of evidence, so that now his detention is purely preventive, while his possible extradition to the United States is processed. something that could take years.
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The ten years of deprivation of liberty (including seven that he spent as a refugee at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London) “are not only arbitrary detention but can also involve torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the United Nations expert stressed.
Melzer recalled that Assange suffers from previous respiratory ailments that make him especially vulnerable to covid-19, and recalled that many prisons around the world have taken measures to reduce the prison population to avoid outbreaks.
The rapporteur also asked that the United Kingdom not extradite Assange to the United States due to the doubts that his possible process in that country raises in terms of human rights, a month after a decision is issued in the first instance on that possible extradition.
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