Treatment of Assange putting his life ‘at risk’: UN expert

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange 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. (AFP)
Updated 01 November 2019

Treatment of Assange putting his life ‘at risk’: UN expert

  • Nils Melzer: ‘Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life’
  • Assange is facing an extradition request by the US over charges he violated the US Espionage Act by publishing a huge cache of military and diplomatic files in 2010

GENEVA: The treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is facing the threat of extradition from Britain to the US on espionage charges, is putting his life “at risk,” an independent UN rights expert said Friday.
“Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life,” the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Nils Melzer, said in a statement.
Melzer, who visited the 48-year-old Australian whistleblower in a London prison on May 9, nearly a month after his arrest at Ecuador’s embassy where he had been holed up for seven years, has previously warned he was being subjected to drawn-out “psychological torture.”
A spokesperson told AFP that the independent expert, who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations, had not met Assange since then but had received “updates” about his condition.
Friday’s statement warned that Assange’s health had continued to deteriorate since his arrest, stressing that “his life was now at risk.”
In the statement, Melzer pointed out that in May he had demanded immediate measures to protect the WikiLeaks founder’s health and dignity.
“However, what we have seen from the UK Government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity,” he said.
“Despite the medical urgency of my appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the UK has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law,” he charged.
Assange “continues to be detained under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance, not justified by his detention status,” he said.
His statement pointed out that Assange had completed his prison sentence for violating his British bail terms in 2012 and was now “being held exclusively in relation to the pending extradition request from the United States.”
Assange is facing the extradition request by the US over charges he violated the US Espionage Act by publishing a huge cache of military and diplomatic files in 2010.
“While the US Government prosecutes Mr. Assange for publishing information about serious human rights violations, including torture and murder, the officials responsible for these crimes continue to enjoy impunity,” Melzer said.
He also decried that “despite the complexity of the proceedings against him led by the world’s most powerful Government, Mr. Assange’s access to legal counsel and documents has been severely obstructed.”
This, he said, had effectively undermined “his most fundamental right to prepare his defense.”
In his appeal, Melzer urged London to bar Assange’s extradition to the US, and demanded that “he be promptly released and allowed to recover his health and rebuild his personal and professional life.”


Pompeo calls on international community to classify Hezbollah a terrorist group

Updated 19 January 2020

Pompeo calls on international community to classify Hezbollah a terrorist group

  • The US secretary’s statement followed Britain’s action which added the Hezbollah movement to its terrorism blacklist
  • His statement came as he marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on “all nations” on Saturday to classify Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

The US secretary’s statement followed Britain’s action which added the Hezbollah movement to its terrorism blacklist. The UK had previously targeted the movement’s military wing, but the new sanctions classified all Hezbollah organizations and institutions under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2020 and froze all its assets.

“We call on all nations to designate Hizballah as the terrorist organization it is,” Pompeo wrote on his Twitter account.

His statement came as he marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

 

In 2004, Nisman was appointed Special Prosecutor in charge of the investigation of the 1994 terrorist attack against the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). Two years later, Nisman formally accused the government of Iran of directing the AMIA bombing, and Hezbollah of carrying it out.

According to the prosecution, Argentina had been targeted by Iran after a decision was made to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to Tehran.

Following the accusation, Interpol published six names of individuals accused for their role in the attack, including senior Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh.

“We remember the 1994 AMIA Jewish center attack in Buenos Aires and his tireless efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Pompeo said.