Assange ‘may die in jail,’ father warns

John Shipton said he had visited his son in a British prison two days ago and needed to ‘face the bitter truth’ that he ‘may die in jail.’ (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Assange ‘may die in jail,’ father warns

  • John Shipton: This is not the bitter disappointment of a father, this is simply fact. Julian may die in jail over a nine-year persecution for revealing the truth of war crimes
  • The 48-year-old whistleblower is currently being held at a top-security British prison since April after police sensationally dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London

GENEVA: THE father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday he worried his son would die in prison after nine years of “persecution” for daring to reveal US “war crimes.”
John Shipton told reporters in Geneva that he had visited his son in a British prison two days ago and needed to “face the bitter truth” that he “may die in jail.”
“This is not the bitter disappointment of a father, this is simply fact,” he said.
Assange used WikiLeaks to publish classified military and diplomatic files in 2010 about US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq that proved highly embarrassing to the US government.
Since then, he has been entangled in a web of judicial proceeding, and is currently fighting a US bid to extradite him from Britain on charges filed under the Espionage Act that could land him a sentence of up to 175 years in a US prison.
The 48-year-old whistleblower is currently being held at a top-security British prison since April after police sensationally dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London.
He had been holed up in the embassy since 2012 to avoid a extradition order to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over accusations of sexual assault, which he has denied.
“Julian may die in jail over a nine-year persecution for revealing the truth of war crimes,” Shipton said.
“It is beyond obscene.”
His comments followed a warning from an independent UN rights expert last week that the treatment of Assange was putting his life “at risk.”
“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.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 18 min 31 sec ago

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.