In cahoots with the Trump regime, Britain is killing Assange slowly for the “crime” of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be.
Isolated in maximum security solitary confinement, denied vitally needed medical and dental treatment, and reportedly given 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ) are crime against humanity by “intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”—according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Long term isolation by behind bars is torture by any standard, a flagrant US Eight Amendment violation, prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishments.”
The UN Convention Against Torture defines the practice as any state action, “causing severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental… intentionally inflicted on a person” for information, punishment, intimidation, or intentional discrimination.
Prisoners isolated for extended periods experience panic attacks, lethargy, insomnia, nightmares, dizziness, social withdrawal, memory and appetite loss, delusions and hallucinations, profound despair and hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia.
Long term isolation is like being buried alive, at times causing irreversible trauma, prisoners becoming dysfunctional and zombie-like.
BZ is a powerful, mind-altering drug. According to the Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents, it’s “used as a hallucinogenic and incapacitating CWA (chemical weapon agent).”
Its toxic properties can harm or incapacitate anyone exposed to it even in small doses. BZ affects the central and peripheral nervous systems.
When exposed to the drug, symptoms include disorientation, agitation, tremor, ataxia (loss of control of bodily movements), stupor, coma, seizures, nausea and vomiting.
Fabricated US charges against Assange, his imprisonment, and horrific mistreatment are all about wanting truth-telling of government wrongdoing silenced.
It’s about warning independent journalists against exposing high crimes of state. It’s open warfare on digital democracy, the last frontier of free and open expression, the only reliable independent space for real news, information and analysis—enabling anyone to freely express or have access to views on any topics.
Following Assange’s indictment last May on multiple phony Espionage Act of 1917 violations, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) denounced it as a “clear and present danger to journalism, the freedom of the press, and freedom of speech.”
In Bartnicki et al v. Vopper, aka Williams, et al (December 2000), the US Supreme Court ruled that everyone has a constitutional right to disseminate truthful information on matters of public interest—no matter how obtained.
Indictment, imprisonment, and mistreatment of Assange, Chelsea Manning, as well as other truth-telling journalists and whistleblowers is an assault on speech, press, and academic freedoms—a flagrant First Amendment breach in the US.
When lost, all other fundamental rights are jeopardized.
In New York Times Co. v. the United States (June 1971), pertaining to a government attempt to prevent publication of the Pentagon Papers, exposing hard truths about US aggression in Southeast Asia, the Supreme Court ruled for the Times, Justice Hugo Black saying the following: “In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role…”
“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.”
“The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”
“And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.”
Despite this and other Supreme Court rulings on speech and press freedoms, three wrongful DOJ charges against Assange focus on the no-crime/crime of publishing information everyone has a right to know.
They include the Afghan and Iraq war logs, exposing Pentagon crimes of war and against humanity, and leaked DNC emails, not hacked as falsely claimed.
By open letter, dozens of doctors petitioned UK home secretary Priti Patel to move Assange from brutalizing high security conditions in London’s Belmarsh prison to a university teaching hospital for vitally needed treatment.
Citing his deteriorating mental and physical health, they warned that he may die if continues to be imprisoned under cruel and unreasonable conditions.
Their assessment is based on “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his October 21 court appearance in London and a November 1 report by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, warning that Assange’s “life [is] now at risk.” He shows “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.”
“[W]at we have seen from the UK Government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity.”
“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.”
Its actions are a flagrant UN Convention against Torture violation. Assange “continues to be detained under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance, not justified by his detention status.”
“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, thus effectively undermining his most fundamental right to prepare his defense.”
“The blatant and sustained arbitrariness shown by both the judiciary and the Government in this case suggests an alarming departure from the UK’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law.”
“This is setting a worrying example, which is further reinforced by the Government’s recent refusal to conduct the long-awaited judicial inquiry into British involvement in the CIA torture and rendition program.”
“In my view, this case has never been about Mr. Assange’s guilt or innocence, but about making him pay the price for exposing serious governmental misconduct, including alleged war crimes and corruption.”
“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 open letter by dozens of medical professionals to Britain’s home secretary stressed their “serious concerns about (Assange’s) physical and mental health,” adding that an earlier UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that his confinement to Ecuador’s London embassy (from August 2012 until forcefully dragged out last May) constituted torture.
Conditions in Belmarsh prison are infinitely harsher. He’s denied vital to life and welfare medical treatment, a crime against humanity.
After seeing him in court last month, former UK Ambassador Craig Murray said he “exhibit[s] exactly the symptoms of a torture victim.”
John Pilger made similar comments after seeing him. Innocent of all bogus charges against him, he’s being slow-tortured to death.
“We wish to put on record, as medical doctors, our collective serious concerns and to draw the attention of the public and the world to this grave situation”—the petition to Britain’s home secretary said, adding, “From a medical point of view, on the evidence currently available, we have serious concerns about Mr Assange’s fitness to stand trial in February 2020.”
“Most importantly, it is our opinion that Mr Assange requires urgent expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health.”
“Any medical treatment indicated should be administered in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital (tertiary care).”
“Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.”
WikiLeaks is a publisher, Assange an investigative journalist. Their work is journalism the way it’s supposed to be is all about—warranting high praise, not imprisonment under brutalizing conditions amounting to torture.
Wanting him and other truth-telling journalists silenced is the hallmark of totalitarian rule, wanting the message controlled, endangering the right of free expression—the slippery slope where the US, UK, and other Western societies are heading.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.