The United States’ case against journalist Julian Assange, which is expected to have another chapter in his saga decided this Wednesday (21), is a combination of “farce combined with psychological torture”, in the assessment of Giovani del Prete, member of the Secretariat Continental da Alba Movimentos, which is part of the international solidarity campaign for Assange.

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Health issues prevented Assange from attending the first session of the trial that could see him extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States. The trial takes place this Tuesday and Wednesday (20th and 21st) in the British capital, London.

At 52 years old, Assange is being prosecuted in the United States for having published, since 2010, more than 700,000 confidential documents about the country’s military and diplomatic activities, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was detained by British police in 2019, after seven years confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he took refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden.

“During this entire period, of more than 10 years of persecution, Julian Assange has been imprisoned without having been convicted and this represents psychological torture” highlights Del Prete, based on analyzes carried out by the former UN special rapporteur on torture and cruel treatment and inhumane, Nils Melzer. Book author The Process: Julian Assange, Melzer details the legal process against Assange and denounces the collusion of the governments of the USA, United Kingdom, Ecuador and Sweden with the journalist’s situation.

“The entire process of persecution with Assange involves representatives of these countries who are involved in deepening this psychological torture, silencing the work of journalists and criminalizing journalism”, points out Del Prete.

He assesses that the persecution of the journalist who founded Wikileaks is an explicit attack on freedom of expression and becomes even more serious in the context of the conflict in the Middle East, where several countries, including Brazil, denounce Israel’s massacre against Gaza.

“It is an intimidation for anyone and everyone who exposes war crimes and directly attacks freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Values ​​that the United States claims to hold dear to its democracy, but do not think twice about silencing those who expose their crimes.”

Julian Assange’s lawyer defended freedom of information this Tuesday (20), at the trial in London. Edward Fitzgerald also mentioned “political motivations” in the extradition action analyzed in the trial.

“My client is being prosecuted for carrying out a common journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing confidential information, truthful information and information of clear and important public interest,” Fitzgerald said at the High Court of Justice in London.

The NGO Reporters Without Borders visited the journalist in January, in the maximum security Belmarsh prison, east of London, where he has been held for almost five years, and stated on Tuesday that Assange is ill and has broken a rib due to excessive coughing.

“This reinforces the risks to his physical and mental health that exist under current conditions of detention, which would worsen if he were extradited,” the NGO said.

Last chance to avoid extradition

Two British judges will examine the decision of the High Court of Justice in London, taken on June 6, to deny Assange permission to appeal his extradition to the United States, accepted in June 2022 by the British government.

If Assange fails in this last attempt before British justice, he will have exhausted all avenues of appeal in the United Kingdom. However, a last appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) “is still possible”, the “Free Assange” support group said in a statement released in December.

*With AFP

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


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