Eastbourne Constituency Labour Party members recently discussed a motion in defence of journalist and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who is in prison awaiting the appeal of his extradition to the USA on Espionage Act charges. These charges carry a prison term of 175 years. In January, Julian won his case against extradition, but he was not granted bail, and whilst a prosecution appeal is underway, he remains incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison.
The Judge upheld the prosecution’s case on all counts, but in the final analysis ruled that due to the deterioration in his mental health, extradition to the US and imprisonment within the US prison system would pose a serious risk to his life. But it seems a cruel oversight that whilst the judgement highlighted the risk to life under the ‘oppressive’ US prison system, the bail decision overlooked the continued risk to life caused by the inhumane 23 hours per day solitary confinement under maximum security at Belmarsh since April 2019 .
Julian Assange is suffering a repressive regime of isolation and is being denied his fundamental legal right of access to his lawyers and legal papers that he needs to defend himself. His health is seriously declining in Belmash. The UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has warned “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 him his life.”
Labour Left Alliance have said “the conspiracy charges against Assange criminalise core journalistic practices and are a frontal assault on the freedom of the press.” Doctors and journalists alike have spoken out against Julian Assange’s treatment.
Over 65 doctors have signed a letter to the British Home Secretary calling for urgent medical assessment and treatment of Julian Assange in hospital. They warned on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent.
The National Union of Journalists have called for his release. Over 800 journalists have now signed an open letter condemning “the campaign being waged against him for the crime of revealing war crimes”.
Eastbourne Labour condemns any complicity with the persecution of Julian Assange. We are now campaigning against his extradition, against the prison regime being imposed on him, and for his immediate release. We have called upon the British government and Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, to refuse to extradite him to the USA and to free him immediately.
“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people”. John F. Kennedy
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On Behalf of Eastbourne CLP