Doctors from around the world have written an open letter to the UK home secretary about the plight of the WikiLeaks’ publisher in London’s Belmarsh prison.
Open Letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel
and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott
We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange. Our professional concerns follow publication recently of the harrowing eyewitness accounts of Craig Murray and John Pilger of the case management hearing on Monday 21 October 2019 at Westminster Magistrates Court. The hearing related to the upcoming February 2020 hearing of the request by the US government for Mr Assange’s extradition to the US in relation to his work as a publisher of information, including information about alleged crimes of the US government.
Our concerns were further heightened by the publication on 1 November 2019 of a further report of Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in which he stated: ‘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.’
Having entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 19 June 2012, Mr Assange sought and was granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government. On 11 April 2019, he was removed from the Embassy and arrested by the Metropolitan Police. He was subsequently detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison, in what Mr Melzer described as ‘oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance.’
During the seven years spent in the Embassy in confined living conditions, Mr Assange was visited and examined by a number of experts each of whom expressed alarm at the state of his health and requested that he be allowed access to a hospital. No such access was permitted. Mr Assange was unable to exercise his right to free and necessary expert medical assessment and treatment throughout the seven-year period.
A chronology, based on information available to the public, of relevant visits, events and reports from a medical perspective follows:
On 31 July 2015, a dentist reported that Mr Assange’s ‘upper right first premolar (UR4) tooth had fractured along with the filling that was in it and the dental pulp of the tooth was exposed’ and ‘that failure to treat this promptly would lead to infection of the root leading to a dental abscess and pain.’ The dentist advised ‘saving this tooth would require root canal treatment’, however, ‘due to the specialised equipment and radiographic requirements this treatment could not be completed in the domiciliary setting.’ ‘Extraction of the tooth’ was identified as ‘another option but […] it may need a surgical extraction.’ This was ‘not recommended in a domiciliary setting especially as we would need preoperative radiographs to assess the root shape and the proximity of the root to the floor of the maxillary sinus. Extractions in this area carry a risk of creating a communication between the mouth and the sinus which could need surgical closure hence radiographs would be essential to assess this risk.’ The dentist ‘advised Mr Assange he should seek treatment in a clinical setting to prevent further progression of his symptoms as soon as possible.’1
On 4 December 2015, an opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) was formally adopted and it was published on 5 February 2016. It concluded that Mr Assange was being arbitrarily detained by the governments of the UK and Sweden. Crucially, it was made clear at the time that any continued arbitrary detention of Mr Assange would constitute torture. The group concluded that ‘the Embassy of Ecuador in London is far less than a house or detention centre equipped for prolonged pretrial detention and lacks appropriate and necessary medical equipment or facilities — it is valid to assume, after five years of deprivation of liberty, that Mr Assange’s health could have deteriorated to such a level that anything more than a superficial illness would put his health at a serious risk, and he was denied access to a medical institution for a proper diagnosis, including a magnetic resonance imaging test.’2
On 8 December 2015, a doctor who saw Mr Assange reported: ‘progressive inflammation and stiffness affecting his right shoulder. This requires an MRI scan to determine the exact diagnosis in order to inform a suitably qualified physiotherapist as to how best to treat him in an appropriately equipped medical facility. His current circumstances significantly compromise the ability to satisfactorily investigate and treat him.’3 Mr Assange was refused access to a hospital by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.4
On 11 December 2015, a further doctor, a trauma and psychosocial expert, reported: ‘Mr Assange scored 15 out of 20 on the Patient Health Questionnaire […] a multipurpose instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring and measuring the severity of depression. […] A score of 15 indicates that Mr Assange suffers from Major Depression (moderately severe)’; ‘At a minimum, it is recommended that his urgent medical complaints regarding the pain in his shoulder be investigated with appropriate equipment’; ‘The Embassy is not a medical setting. The only way Mr Assange can access either urgent medical care or investigations would be to place himself in the hands of the British authorities. Mr Assange is in an invidious position of having to decide between his physical health and the risk of being extradited to the United States. His inability to access proper medical care and assessment – without placing himself into the hands of the authorities – transforms each physical complaint no matter how simple into something that could have catastrophic consequences either for his health or his liberty. He lives in a state of chronic health insecurity’; and ‘The unusual circumstances place Mr Assange in a precarious situation. The effects of the situation on Mr Assange’s health and well-being are serious and the risks will most certainly escalate with the potential to becoming life threatening if current conditions persist.’5
In October 2017, Doctors Sondra S. Crosby, Brock Chisholm and Sean Love visited Mr Assange.6 The group examined him for 20 hours over Three days.7 In an article for the Guardian published on 24 January 2018 they wrote: ‘We examined Julian Assange, and he badly needs care – but he can’t get it’; ‘We call on the British Medical Association and colleagues in the UK to demand safe access to medical care for Mr Assange and to oppose openly the ongoing violations of his human right to healthcare.’8
On 19 June 2018, Dinah PoKempner, General Counsel at Human Rights Watch, stated: ‘Concern is growing over his access to medical care. His asylum is growing more and more difficult to distinguish from detention. The UK has the power to resolve concerns over his isolation, health, and confinement by removing the threat of extradition for publishing newsworthy leaks.’9
On 22 June 2018, Dr Sean Love, who over the course of the previous year had visited Mr Assange several times at the Ecuadorian embassy, reiterated his concerns regarding Mr Assange’s health and repeated his call in the British Medical Journal for him to be given access to healthcare.10 Dr Love wrote that ‘Assange’s detention continues to cause a precipitous deterioration in his overall condition’ and that ‘Because of his health issues, in 2015, Ecuadorian authorities requested that he be permitted humanitarian safe passage to a hospital in London; however, this was denied by the UK.’ Dr Love stated that ‘To this day, Assange remains unable to access hospital based diagnostic testing and treatment—even for a medical emergency. In effect, he has gone without proper access to care for the duration of his six years in confinement.’
On 21 December 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) issued a further statement opposing the continued unlawful detention of Mr Assange: ‘States that are based upon and promote the rule of law do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples.’ It added: ‘The WGAD is further concerned that the modalities of the continued arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr Assange is undermining his health, and may possibly endanger his life given the disproportionate amount of anxiety and stress that such prolonged deprivation of liberty entails.’11
On 5 April 2019, Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, issued a statement following reports that Mr Assange may soon be expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy. He said, ‘According to information I have received, Mr Assange is at risk of extreme vulnerability, and his health is in serious decline. I therefore appeal to the Ecuadorian authorities to continue to provide him, to the fullest extent possible in the circumstances, with adequate living conditions and access to appropriate medical care.’12 On 11 April 2019, Mr Assange was expelled from the Embassy and arrested by the Metropolitan Police.
On 1 May 2019, Mr Assange was described as suffering from ‘moderate to severe depression’ at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court at which he was sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment for a bail infringement dating back to 2012.13
On 3 May 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a statement noting it was ‘deeply concerned’ over Assange’s 50 weeks imprisonment. ‘The Working Group regrets that the Government has not complied with its Opinion and has now furthered the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr Assange.14
On 9 May 2019, Mr Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, visited Belmarsh prison accompanied by two medical experts, with special expertise in assessing victims of torture. This involved a 60-minute conversation with Mr Assange, an hour-long physical examination and a two-hour psychiatric examination.
On 23 May 2019, the US government brought charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 against Mr Assange for his publishing activities on behalf of WikiLeaks. On 29 May 2019, Mr Assange was moved to the ‘hospital wing’ at Belmarsh prison following a reported significant deterioration in his health. On 30 May 2019, Mr Assange was too unwell to appear in court, even via video link, for a preliminary extradition hearing.15 It should be noted that the medical facilities and staffing at Belmarsh prison ‘hospital wing’ have never been divulged to the public.
On 31 May 2019, Mr Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, reported on his 9 May 2019 visit to Mr Assange, ‘we all came to the conclusion that he showed all the symptoms that are typical for a person that has been exposed to psychological torture over an extended period of time.’16
On 22 October 2019, Craig Murray, a former British Ambassador, published a detailed and shocking eye witness account of Mr Assange’s hearing the previous day, stating that he ‘exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim.’17 His report was corroborated by the eyewitness account of John Pilger, the renowned investigative journalist and filmmaker.18
On 1 November 2019, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer reiterated his alarm at the continued deterioration of Julian Assange’s health since his arrest and detention earlier this year, saying his life was now at risk. Mr Melzer said, ‘What we have seen from the UK Government is outright contempt for Mr Assange’s rights and integrity,’ and ‘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.’ Mr Melzer concluded: ‘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.’19
Medical doctors have a professional duty to report suspected torture of which they become aware, wherever it may be occurring. That professional duty is absolute and must be carried out regardless of risk to reporting doctors. 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 World Health Organisation Constitution of 1946 envisages ‘the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.’20 We are indebted to those who have sought to uphold this right in the case of Mr Assange.
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.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer, visited Mr Assange in Belmarsh Prison on 9 May 2019, over six months ago. Mr Melzer was accompanied by two medical experts specialised in examining victims of torture and other ill-treatment. The team was able to speak with Mr Assange in confidence and to conduct a thorough medical assessment.
Mr Melzer’s report was published on 31 May 2019:
‘It was obvious that Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,’ the expert said. ‘Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.
‘The evidence is overwhelming and clear,’ the expert said. ‘Mr Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.
‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,’ Mr Melzer said. ‘The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!’
Report of Nils Melzer, dated 31 May 2019: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24 665
In his annual report on 14 October 2019 to the Seventy-fourth session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Melzer stated: ‘Further, I would like to thank the Government of the United Kingdom for having facilitated my visit to Mr Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison in London in May 2019, including his examination by two experienced medical experts. Although Mr Assange showed a pattern of symptoms typical for long-term exposure to psychological torture, I regret to report that none of the concerned States have agreed to investigate or redress their alleged involvement in his abuse as required of them under human rights law.’
Report of Nils Melzer to the Seventy-fourth session of the UN General Assembly on 14 October 2019:
Eyewitness account of Craig Murray (former British Ambassador) of events at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday 21 October 2019: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/10/assange-in-court/
Eyewitness account of John Pilger (investigative journalist) of events at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday 21 October 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLXzudMCyM4
Report of Nils Melzer, dated 5 April 2019: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24 454&LangID=E
Report of Nils Melzer, dated 1 November 2019: https://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25249&L angID=E
It is noteworthy that three of the medical practitioners, from whose reports we have drawn, are unidentified, their names having been redacted. In this context, a telling passage from the 26 page report of the psychological expert dated 11 December 2015 offers an insight into the climate of fear and intimidation surrounding the provision of medical care to Mr Assange. On page 20 of the report, under the heading ‘Medical Practitioners’ Concerns regarding examining and treating Mr Assange at the Embassy’, the unnamed psychological expert noted:
‘One of Mr Assange’s colleagues commented that there had been many difficulties in finding medical practitioners who were willing to examine Mr Assange in the Embassy. The reasons given were uncertainty over whether medical insurance would cover the Embassy (a foreign jurisdiction); whether the association with Mr Assange could harm their livelihood or draw unwanted attention to them and their families; and discomfort regarding exposing this association when entering the Embassy. One medical practitioner expressed concern to one of the interviewees after the police taking notes of his name and the fact that he was visiting Mr Assange. One medical practitioner wrote that he agreed to produce a medical report only on condition that his name not be made available to the wider public, fearing repercussions.’21
It is likely that the aforementioned climate of fear and intimidation severely compromised the medical care available to Mr Assange, even within the Embassy, and given all the other concerns surrounding the extraordinary treatment of Mr Assange it is difficult to conclude other than that the creation of that climate of fear and intimidation was deliberate. If it was deliberate, we as medical doctors condemn such behaviour as reckless, dangerous and cruel. That all this has been played out in the heart of London for many years is a source of great sadness and shame to many of us.
Dr Mariagiulia Agnoletto MD Specialist in Psychiatry ASST Monza San Gerardo Hospital, Monza (Italy)
Dr Vittorio Agnoletto MD Università degli Studi di Milano Statale, Milano (Italy)
Dr Sonia Allam MBChB FRCA Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pre-operative Assessment, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Scotland (UK)
Dr Norbert Andersch MD MRCPsych Consultant Neurologist and Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (retired); Lecturer in Psychopathology at Sigmund Freud Private University, Vienna-Berlin-Paris (Germany and UK)
Dr Marianne Beaucamp MD Fachärztin (Specialist) in Neurology & Psychiatry Psychoanalyst and Psychotherapist (retired), Munich (Germany)
Dr Thed Beaucamp MD Fachärztin (Specialist) in Neurology, Psychiatry & Psychosomatic Medicine Psychoanalyst and Psychotherapist (retired), Munich (Germany)
Dr Margaret Beavis MBBS FRACGP MPH General Medical Practitioner (Australia)
Dr David Bell Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London (UK)
Mr Patrick John Ramsay Boyd (signed John Boyd) MRCS LRCP MBBS FRCS FEBU Consultant Urologist (retired) (UK)
Dr Hannah Caller MBBS DCH Paediatrician, Homerton University Hospital, London (UK)
Dr Franco Camandona MD Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynaecology E.O. Ospedali Galliera, Genova (Italy)
Dr Sylvia Chandler MBChB MRCGP BA MA General Medical Practitioner (retired) (UK)
Dr Marco Chiesa MD FRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor, University College London (UK)
Dr Carla Eleonora Ciccone MD Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynaecology AORN MOSCATI, Avellino (Italy)
Dr Owen Dempsey MBBS BSc MSc PhD General Medical Practitioner (retired) (UK)
Dr H R Dhammika MBBS Medical Officer, Dehiattakandiya Base Hospital, Dehiattakandiya (Sri Lanka)
Dr Tim Dowson MBChB MRCGP MSc MPhil Specialised General Medical Practitioner in Substance Misuse, Leeds (UK)
Miss Kamilia El-Farra MBChB FRCOG MPhil (Medical Law and Ethics) Consultant Gynaecologist, Essex (UK)
Dr Beata Farmanbar MD General Medical Practitioner (Sweden)
Dr Tomasz Fortuna MD RCPsych (affiliated) Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Adult Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst, British Psychoanalytical Society and Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London (UK)
Dr C Stephen Frost BSc MBChB Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm, Sweden) (UK and Sweden)
Dr Peter Garrett MA MD FRCP Independent writer and humanitarian physician; Visiting Lecturer in Nephrology at the University of Ulster (UK)
Dr Rachel Gibbons MBBS BSc MRCPsych. M.Inst.Psychoanal. Mem.Inst.G.A Consultant Psychiatrist (UK)
Dr Bob Gill MBChB MRCGP General Medical Practitioner (UK)
Elizabeth Gordon MS FRCS Consultant Surgeon (retired); Co-founder of Freedom from Torture (UK)
Professor Derek A. Gould MBChB MRCP DMRD FRCR Consultant Interventional Radiologist (retired): BSIR Gold Medal, 2010; over 110 peer-reviewed publications in journals and chapters (UK)
Dr Jenny Grounds MD General Medical Practitioner, Riddells Creek, Victoria; Treasurer, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Australia (Australia)
Dr Paul Hobday MBBS FRCGP DRCOG DFSRH DPM General Medical Practitioner (retired) (UK)
Mr David Jameson-Evans MBBS FRCS Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon (retired) (UK)
Dr Bob Johnson MRCPsych MRCGP Diploma in Psychotherapy Neurology & Psychiatry (Psychiatric Institute New York) MA (Psychol) PhD (Med
Computing) MBCS DPM MRCS Consultant Psychiatrist (retired); Formerly Head of Therapy, Ashworth Maximum Security Hospital, Liverpool; Formally Consultant Psychiatrist, Special Unit, C-Wing, Parkhurst Prison, Isle of Wight (UK)
Dr Lissa Johnson BA BSc(Hons, Psych) MPsych(Clin) PhD Clinical Psychologist (Australia)
Dr Anna Kacperek MRCPsych Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, London (UK)
Dr Jessica Kirker MBChB DipPsychiat MRCPsych FRANZCP MemberBPAS Psychoanalyst and Consultant Medical Psychotherapist (retired) (UK)
Dr Willi Mast MD Facharzt für Allgemeinmedizin, Gelsenkirchen (Germany)
Dr Janet Menage MA MBChB General Medical Practitioner (retired); qualified Psychological Counsellor; author of published research into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (UK)
Professor Alan Meyers MD MPH Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
Dr Salique Miah BSc MBChB FRCEM DTM&H ARCS Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Manchester (UK)
Dr David Morgan DClinPsych MSc Fellow of British Psychoanalytic Society Psychoanalyst, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Consultant Psychotherapist (UK)
Dr Helen Murrell MBChB MRCGP General Medical Practitioner, Gateshead (UK)
Dr Alison Anne Noonan MBBS (Sydney) MD (Rome) MA (Sydney) ANZSJA IAAP AAGP IAP Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Specialist Outreach Northern Territory, Executive Medical Association for Prevention of War (NSW) (Australia)
Dr Alison Payne BSc MBChB DRCOG MRCGP prev FRNZGP General Medical Practitioner, Coventry; special interest in mental health/trauma and refugee health (UK)
Dr Peter Pech MD Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (sub-specialty Paediatric Radiology), Akademiska Sjukhuset (Uppsala University Hospital), Uppsala (Sweden)
Dr Tomasz Pierscionek MRes MBBS MRCPsych PGDip (UK)
Professor Allyson M Pollock MBChB MSc FFPH FRCGP FRCP (Ed) Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University (UK)
Dr Abdulsatar Ravalia FRCA Consultant Anaesthetist (UK)
Dr. med. Ullrich Raupp MD Specialist in Psychotherapy, Child Psychiatry and Child Neurology; Psychodynamic Supervisor (DGSv) Wesel, Germany (Germany)
Mr John H Scurr BSc MBBS FRCS Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon, University College Hospital, London (UK)
Dr Peter Shannon MBBS (UWA) DPM (Melb) FRANZCP Adult Psychiatrist (retired) (Australia)
Dr Gustaw Sikora MD PhD F Inst Psychoanalysis Fellow of British Psychoanalytic Society Specialist Psychiatrist (diploids obtained in Poland and registered in the UK); Psychoanalyst; currently in private practice (UK and Poland)
Dr Wilhelm Skogstad MRCPsych BPAS IPA Psychiatrist & Psychoanalyst, London, United Kingdom (UK and Germany)
Dr John Stace MBBS (UNSW) FRACGP FACRRM FRACMA MHA (UNSW) Country Doctor (retired), Perth (Australia)
Dr Derek Summerfield BSc (Hons) MBBS MRCPsych Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London (UK)
Dr Rob Tandy MBBS MRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalyst; Unit Head, Psychoanalytic Treatment Unit, Tavistock and Portman, London; City & Hackney Primary Care Psychotherapy Consultation Service, St Leonard’s Hospital, London (UK)
Dr Noel Thomas MA MBChB DCH DobsRCOG DTM&H MFHom General Medical Practitioner; homeopath; has assisted on health/education projects in six developing countries Maesteg, Wales (UK)
Dr Philip Thomas MBChB DPM MPhil MD Formerly Professor of Philosophy Diversity & Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire; Formally Consultant Psychiatrist (UK)
Dr Gianni Tognoni MD Istituto Mario Negri, Milano (Italy)
Dr Sebastião Viola Lic Med MRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist, Cardiff (UK)
Dr Peter Walger MD Consultant, Infectious Disease Specialist, Bonn- Duesseldorf-Berlin (Germany)
Dr Sue Wareham OAM MBBS General Medical Practitioner (retired) (Australia)
Dr Eric Windgassen MRCPsych PGDipMBA Consultant Psychiatrist (retired) (UK)
Dr Pam Wortley MBBS MRCGP General Medical Practitioner (retired), Sunderland (UK)
Dr Matthew Yakimoff BOralH (DSc) GDipDent General Dental Practitioner (Australia)
Dr Rosemary Yuille BSc (Hons Anatomy) MBBS (Hons) General Medical Practitioner (retired), Canberra (Australia)
Dr Felicity de Zulueta Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in Traumatic Studies, King’s College London (UK)
Dr Paquita de Zulueta MBBChir MA (Cantab) MA (Medical Law & Ethics) MRCP FRCGP PGDipCBT CBT Therapist and Coach; Senior Tutor Medical Ethics; Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Dept of Primary Care & Population Health, Imperial College London (UK)
1 Dr [Redacted], BChD MFGDP(UK) MSc, Dental Surgeon, carried out an emergency dental appointment at the Embassy on 8 May 2015: https://file.wikileaks.org/file/cms/Dentist%20report%20310715.pdf
2 Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-fourth session, 30 November-4 December 2015, Opinion No. 54/2015 concerning Julian Assange (Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/A.HRC.WGAD.2015.docx https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17012&LangID=E
3 Dr [Redacted] MA MB BChir DCH MRCGP assessed Mr Assange on 12 August 2015 and 2 December 2015: https://file.wikileaks.org/file/cms/Medical.pdf
4 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/oct/15/ecuador-asks-britain-to-allow-julian-assange-safe- passage-for-mri-scan; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/15/julian-assange-shoulder-pain-mri- scan-embassy-metropolitan-police; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/11932732/Wikileaks- Julain-Assange-refused-safe-passage-for-MRI-scan.html
5 Dr [Redacted], Trauma and Psychosocial Expert, interviewed Mr Assange on five occasions between June 2014 and June 2015, and interviewed Mr Assange on two further occasions to validate previous findings: https://file.wikileaks.org/file/cms/Psychosocial%20Medical%20Report%20December%202015.pdf
6 Dr Sean Love is a Resident Physician in Anaesthesiology and an Adult Critical Care Medicine Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr Sondra S Crosby is a medical doctor and Professor of Medicine at Boston University, specialising in internal medicine. She is also a faculty member of the Health Law,
Bioethics and Human Rights department at the Boston University School of Public Health. Dr Brock Chisholm is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with a degree in Psychology, a Masters in Psychological Research Methods and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and extensive experience in working with victims of trauma.
7 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/24/julian-assanges-health-in-dangerous-condition-say- doctors; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/julian-assange-care-wikileaks- ecuadorian-embassy; https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2018/06/22/sean-love-access-medical-care-must- guaranteed-julian-assange/#_ftn1
8 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/julian-assange-care-wikileaks-ecuadorian- embassy
13 https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1121387/julian-assange-depression-symptoms-mental-health- treatment
15 https://metro.co.uk/2019/05/30/wikileaks-grave-concerns-julian-assange-moved-prison-hospital-9738883/; https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/may/30/julian-assange-too-ill-appear-court-via-video-link- lawyers-say; https://news.sky.com/story/julian-assange-moved-to-medical-wing-in-belmarsh-prison-over- significantly-deteriorated-health-11731364
21 Dr [Redacted], Trauma and Psychosocial Expert, interviewed Mr Assange on five occasions between June 2014 and June 2015, and interviewed Mr Assange on two further occasions to validate previous findings: https://file.wikileaks.org/file/cms/Psychosocial%20Medical%20Report%20December%202015.pdf.
“Doctors’ open letter defending Julian Assange wins global support
“By Laura Tiernan
“27 November 2019
“An open letter by medical doctors urging action to save the life of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has received international media coverage, winning growing support among doctors.”
(Doctors’ open letter defending Julian Assange wins global support — World Socialist Web Site — 27 November 2019)
I don’t know the law in the UK, Sweden, Ecuador or Australia. However, I do know there is a mechanism for citizens of the US to demand a grand jury investigation into a suspected crime, in this case, torture. (The 9/11 Families are trying to force a US Attorney to initiate a grand jury investigation into certain aspects of 9/11.)
As there is clear evidence of torture, and further, FOIA documents have shown the involvement of these states to unlawfully detain Assange for the purpose of torture, and additionally, we know that several of these states are completely unresponsive to clear evidence of torture–is there a way for citizens to push this torture into their own legal system?
Pretty is well known for her compassion, chokes, which is why the Home Office has become a byword for intolerance, inhumanity, aggressive and hostile to anyone that crosses its path. It has been disfunctional for decades, even being declared “not fit for purpose”, meaning incompetent and it has no intention of changing, the law is supposed to defend against abuse of power by the state and it is long overdue to intervene and hold the Home Secretary to account for ALL its misdeeds.
We used to have an official solicitor for that purpose, has that role been trashed?, like so many others that are supposed to defend us.
This is sadism, pure and simple.
Anyone involved in this detention on any level should be considered a war criminal.
Officers who inflicted less on Jewish and other inmates than is being intentionally inflicted on Assange were prosecuted as war criminals.
Belmarsh = Auschwitz.
Scene of an unspeakable ongoing crime while most of the world looks away and the perps remain anonymous.
Can we publish a list of names with photos of all of the perps who have been and are involved in executing this sadistic crime?
Thank you, Litchfield!
You’re 100% right, Litchfield, and I fully agree with you. What’s being done to Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison’s sadism, pure and simple. Those involved in this detention on any level should, indeed, be considered war criminals.
Belmarsh = Auschwitz
This is a scene of an unspeakable ongoing crime while most of the world looks away while the perps remain anonymous.
Yes, Litchfield, can we publish a list of names with photos of all the perps who’ve been and still are involved in executing this awful sadistic crime? I believe this is necessary.
Assange is charged (unlawfully) by the USA for crimes he did not commit there, so what case is there for extraditing him to the US
US and UK voters must take responsibility and vote for good party people. In the US that’s either the Socialist or the Green Party; not Dems or Repubs. UK, you know who, there. Someone needs to break him out of prison.
I can’t stand the thought of Julian dying in prison, or even have him continue to suffer.
I note with disgust that only one doctor from the US has signed onto this letter. The American people are at best completely ignorant about Julian Assange’s work and plight, at worst they are indifferent or openly hostile. We have the media–shameless state propagandists–to thank for the lies that have been perpetrated about Assange. When the persecution of journalists escalates, as it surely will, what then? Assange is like a flickering candle flame and when his light is extinguished the darkness will be complete. So it seems to me. The magnitude of evil at work is beyond my imagining.
That was a truly impressive open letter from a long list of medical doctors…
See also on what Julian has been subjected to, and what is possibly coming:
* Julian Assange’s Nightmarish Future — Consortium News — April 15, 2019
And, if all that is not enough, now Julian is facing US extradition and life in supermax prison — almost permanent solitary confinement in a soundproof concrete cell with one window 4 inches wide — for practicing journalism, as explained in reports like:
* My Final Visit With Julian Assange — The Intercept — April 14, 2019
* Inside the Supermax prison that awaits Julian Assange — Washington Examiner — April 13, 2019
There is some hope — it would be the last resort — for Julian to stop his US extradition, concerning the federal supermax prison for spies, terrorists, etc. where he is expected to be sent for life:
“Since 2007, the European Court of Human Rights has put a stay on the extradition of six men wanted on terrorism charges because of concerns about the treatment that would be in store for them at ADX.”
(US ‘supermax’ prison is condemned internationally for its abusive regime — The Guardian — 18 Sep 2012)
I can’t read all of this torture of Julian Assange as it distresses me. My faith in human nature has gone I look at the world and see evil ruling the world! Murdering bastards! You’ve no right to torture him and ignore the law! If the government hadn’t done such horrendous crimes we wouldn’t have been exposed to they’re hideous crimes and then they go and commit more crimes and murder the messenger! Well fuck them and I hope Anonymous bring them down! What kind of animals are ruling us!
Angela McCann wrote:
> What kind of animals are ruling us!
Yes, when we learn the facts, they are astonishing but sadly true. As the saying goes: “When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you know you are being ruled by criminals.”
“No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine.”
— William Blum, author of Killing Hope
“The number of people killed by the uninterrupted series of wars, coups d’État and other subversive operations executed by the United States from the end of the War in 1945 until now — a number estimated at 20 to 30 million victims.”
— Global Research, November 21, 2018
The origin of all this? Basically, while government transparency is the foundation of democracy, code of silence is the foundation of organized crime, including its government sector. As Julian said:
“You have to start with the truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.”
“Our No. 1 enemy is ignorance. And I believe that is the No. 1 enemy for everyone — it’s not understanding what actually is going on in the world.”
“There should be transparency of governments and there should be privacy for individuals.”
“One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice.”
“If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”
“Truth, ultimately, is all we have.”
— Julian Assange
As a retired Family Doctor of 33 years, and as an Open Source Intelligence Analyst trained by the US Army Security Agency (NSA) in Intelligence analysis during the era of the War on Vietnam, I must say that this letter is inadequate in a number of ways, the most egregious being the fact that he was being spied upon by the US CIA by a Spanish contractor constantly and that the British government broke the Geneva Convention laws by invading the Ecuadorian Embassy, violating his assylum, kidnapping Mr Assange and dragging him to a maximum security prison. I would not sign it for these reasons if I had been asked. This letter must be rewritten.
Dr. WARRICK: Your words suggest you are a pedant. Think of the difficulties that had to be surmounted to create such a letter then obtain the considered agreement, by signature, of over 60 professional (busy) people around the world. Of course a better-worded document might have been possible. But given Julian Assange’s precarious legal state and medical condition, time demanded (and still demands) immediate attention not when the perfect document is ready some time in the future. If the points you raise are correct, I suggest you immediately include them in a perfect letter and direct it to the appropriate murderous officials in the United Kingdom and United States. Put your efforts, name, and title into trying to help poor Julian, not condemning the good work of others. – “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do.” Dale Carnegie (How To Win Friends and Influence People; 1936)
Instead of simply criticising an effort that clearly took a lot of effort and energy (to which you did not contribute), you could try circulating the letter with your additional information appended as extra commentary.
That would be more helpful.
You could even write to the Home Secretary yourself adding that information.
Only two of the signers identified as US. Did the petition writers not circulate this much in the US or are doctors there also afraid?
I would imagine that involved US doctors would have the most to fear.
Many Thanks to the courageous doctors who took the time to examine Julian Assange and signed their names.
Even Nazi war criminals were allowed medical treatment after WWII. The british government denies life saving medical treatment to an innocent man. Despicable!
Everyone who comments here also petitions the UK Home Secretary. Give Julian Assange proper medical treatment. Now.
These exact vile tactics were used to bring about the death of Dr. Mohamed Morsi in an Egyptian prison. These disgusting cowards don’t even have the courage to just assassinate him on the street. They probably figure their best option is, he wastes away in some hell-hole. It makes one ashamed to be a citizen of any of the countries involved.
The Global Establishment is sending a message and Assange is the symbol of what happens when you expose their secrets. US soldiers are protected from the Hague ICC by Law here, so much more likely Assange’s treatment derives from exposure that our Elections are rigged, embarrassing our politicians and bureaucrats, and connections to the nebulous RUSSIANS!!! who remain everywhere but nowhere. While it is no surprise that our political Establishment would do this to Assange (just look at the 500,000 Iraqi kids starved to death– “we think it is worth it”, the genocide in Yemen, the cackling over Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Honduras, on and on!), the acquiescence of the MSM and their depiction of Assange as some nefarious criminal is unforgivable. When you are allied with the Establishment Intelligence Agencies, they tell you what you can publish, and more importantly, what you cannot.
Thanks CN, you are one of the few sites remaining that does/hosts investigative journalism. No doubt the Establishment will be coming for you soon.
Libérez Julian Assange ! Il a fait ce que toute personne sensée aurait fait ! Vous n’avez pas le droit de le garder prisonnier, car de toutes façons, nous savons pertinemment que ce monde est infesté de personnes corrompues jusqu’à la moelle et qu’il ne doit pas servir de bouc émissaire, car ce n’est pas de lui dont il est question, mais de systèmes pervertis par des hommes et des femmes sans scrupules ! Au nom de la vraie justice! Libérez Julian Assange !!!!
In the name of true justice! Free Julian Assange !!!!
Being treated like this for speaking the truth USA ARE THE ENEMY
Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. On what grounds is the British Government holding him? Why won’t the Australian Government bring him home? Why are the Australian Government and the British Government bowing down to America? Bring the man home, Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He is one of us!!!
maybe ’cause they believe they’re still an empire ?
I think you have just struck on the key to freeing Assange.
The Australian people.
THEY must organize and put pressure on the Australian government to bring Julian HOME!!!!
If there was a grassroots organization there gathering signatures, I think MANY Americans and citizens from all over the world would feel comfortable sending funds in that direction. Especially if some type of non-profit were to be set up.
This is one of the biggest travesties of Justice I can recall in my life. And all I can think of is the vile true criminal, Hillary Clinton, saying “Can’t we just drone him with a missile strike or something?”
It is heartening this action by doctors, and yet I can’t help but wish that more doctors would come on board. When I address the false allegations, cruelty and unlawful procedures of the British justice system to my fellow Australians they respond with either total indifference, and some with an almost sadistic response – many who refuse to acknowledge the latest evidence of lies and still insist on believing the rape allegations. Most not having a clue to be honest. It is becoming apparent that the British colony has inherited the despicable cruelty that has been exposed by the UK Government and the justice system in this case. Not forgetting the bullying US for instigating this treatment and Sweden for being complicit as is Australia. To witness right before our eyes a man who is being tortured because he has exposed truths and corruption about the warmongering US and the treatment from Britain has really shown us who they are. I can’t believe that still, the majority of people don’t care and because they don’t care or a blind to it, as well as Julian Assange we will all go under. People don’t seem to get that this precedence for our future.
Nicole Louis – I observe the same thing, in Australia. It reminds me of a “wicked enchantment”. A sort of induced moral torpor. And as though we have had a nation wide “injection”… resulting in “moral amnesia”. Like one of those nightmares where the subject absolutely and urgently has to run, but can’t move. It is in itself a sickness. It is a profound, and “curtained of” sickness. It makes me thing of personhood. It is like a total numbness to the reality of PERSONHOOD. Both for dear, brave, brilliant, innocent Julian’s personhood..and also between us all. If we really “got it”..would there not be weeping and rage and a trembling identity? Somehow a subtle “Nazi regime” mentality has settled in, and its smothering dust lies thick on all the cultural furniture – the social habits compliant – of this. I find it quite extraordinary, and would like a diagnostic opinion on this – what is its cause[s]? Are we being medicated, not to care? not to quicken in anything approaching wakefulness, compassion, urgency?
I m with you and sent you lots of courage. Thank you. Kindest regards
Shame, shame on Sweden, UK and Sweden. Just yesterday I had a heated discussion with an American living in Sweden and currently visiting USA for a family event. He gushed over all things Swedish. I agreed with him in general but lamented that the Sweden of today is not the Sweden of Olof Palme. And to round it off, I pointed out how Sweden, in collaboration with uK and USA have been treating Assange.
This gentleman would have nothing of that sort and continued to praise Sweden’s excellent criminal justice system – where for example, women’s accusation of sexual harassment is taken very seriously. When I pointed out that Sweden has dropped the investigation, he challenged me with the question whether I really believe that Assange is innocent (in the face of the allegations of the women). When I responded that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty he was taken aback – but only for a moment. He kept on pestering me with the accusation that I am not giving the (Swedish) women their right to accuse people for sexual assault!!!
He is a “professor”’ teaching some “social-environmental science” (!!!!). Although he doesn’t live in the US anymore, I can bet where he would fit in in the political spectrum – as a “librul”.
I also realized that my logical thinking skills are no match for the brain washed liberals and their cognitive dissonance .
too many sutpid(!) “professors” .
It is commendable that the medical community stand up for Julian Assange Redacting there names lends credibility to the fears of unjust reprisals.
Hopefully it will give UK Authorities pause when they go for medical treatment.
Good to hear of these doctors signing the letter to the vicious UK government aiding the nasty neocons running the US. Assange’s maltreatment is in uncharted territory and so many fooled by the MSM aren’t even tuned in. How to turn the tide when lies never stop–bumper stickers and leaflets don’t seem too effective. Call Trump, who has no control over neocons?
Pleased that they have the courage to openly sign. Sad that they have to have the courage.
Julian Assange is being tortured and abused in the harshest of circumstances that put his life in danger for revealing horrific crimes committed by governments around the world, in particular, the United States government. Instead of standing up for the truth, the cowardly British are acting in compliance with the U.S. government under the corrupt trump administration to send Julian Assange to the U.S. to stand trial for revealing war crimes which the U.S. government wanted to remain hidden from the American people.
Lady Arbuthnot, the judge who decided on Julia’s current term of detention and the date of the next hearing, is heavily compromised because of her family links to the UK/US military/intelligence establishment. She should never have acted in this case and should have resiled herself. On that ground alone, her ruling ought to be set aside.
I am appalled and ashamed of the British and American Government! The way Julian Assange has been treated is absolutely unjust and illegal.
You are forgetting the Australian government, who has a first duty.
You are also forgetting the Swedish government.
Don’t forget Ecuador under Moreno.
Zero due process for eviction, revocation of citizen ship, essentially no extradition process, CIA spying on legal counsel etc…, violations of international laws on asylum.
It would be good if the UN, via the Hague could charge a number of leaders and their supporters of crimes against humanity (for violations) and arrest them if they enter their country. This, at least would highlight the crimes and make travel difdicult. Priti Pratel would be one on the list. It might be good leverage to help Assange.
What, no signer from the U.S. of this excellent statement ???
There is one American doctor who signed it.
The treatment of Julian Assange is a travesty- I am ashamed of my country the USA for committing the war crimes that Wikileaks exposed and more disgusted and ashamed she theur cowardice in their HORRIFIC treatment of Assange!!! He is the messanger not the criminal FREE ASSANGE-NO EXTRADITION!!!!
Thanks for telling it like it is, Cheryl Piperberg……I don’t know Mr. Assange, but I have prayed daily for his freedom and his right to medical service to make him strong again…I live in Canada , but I feel very close to Julian…lets hope God is going to do the right thing…thank you…
Cheryl, You have expressed my exact sentiments; only better and with an undeniable passion. Thank you so much. What has happened to Julian will certainly be the fate of others if this criminality by the British, certainly at the behest of our government, is allowed to continue. Whatever happened to the International Criminal Court? Why are the people of the world allowing such behavior to continue in all of our names? One by one the brave messengers are being picked off by corrupt governments. Again, thanks for your passion on behalf of Mr Assange.
Thank You to all those Drs&Therapists&Clinicians for standing up for what is right. When i was growing up Julian would have been called a political prisoner like Mandela.
This is INHUMANE treatment of a beautiful human being. It is your life’ DUTY OF CARE . DOCTORS ALL!
When it becomes obvious that the UK government is acting illegally in such as way as to cause great suffering and potential death of a person who has only brought truth the to public, then at what point do citizens step in to physically act to prevent this predictable death fro occurring?
That is a very question. The answer, I believe, is in each of our hearts. It is only the courage that is lacking.
I salute totally the integrity of the Medical Practitioners who signed this Petition. JulianAssange epitomizes what we would all like to aspire to. Integrity, bravery and sacrifice without greed. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you to all the doctors who signed this letter. You show real courage – and courage is contagious.
Sixty-five medical professionals who have the good sense of the right side of history. And those are just the signers of this letter. One wonders if Ms. Patel has awareness of this situation, or she is uninformed or even has a heart and proper empathy. These Doctors are living their Hippocratic oath, as they should do. Where is Ms. Patel’s oath and to what? It has come to this. I hope she does the right thing, always. And what will the Shadow Home Secretary have to say?
When Mayor Pete smeared Tulsi Gabbard with the tired and tattered insinuations from her meeting with Assad (ignoring Nancy Pelosi’s visit with Assad), he was just the latest voice in an ongoing chorus singing the same known, baseless smear, aimed at listeners who don’t know the story yet. But this uniform chorus, across so many different talking heads and media corporations, reveals that there is a single source of direction behind this apparently wide array of pundits and CEOs. There is revealed a functioning monopoly behind the scenes. A wide array of truly free reporters would not being reliably missing the central stories that get reported and analyzed, for example, at Consortium News. Like the supremely important story of Julian Assange. This is why outlets such as CN are so important. The Constitution protects the press from government control, but it doesn’t protect it from corporate control. It does not protect the government itself from corporate control. Hence the persecution of Julian Assange.
Assange is an un person , banned like the old days in South Africa or Mordechai Vanunu ion Apartheid Israel. The media did their bit rogering his reputation over the fake rape incident. Dark days for Assange dark days for us all.
That is heartening (not that I think it will make the slightest bit of difference) and I am grateful to the brave professionals who have the integrity to speak up despite justified fears for what the PTB can do to them.
Has anyone documented any legal interventions which might have seen Julian released on bail, secured all the medical and psychological treatment needed, removed him from solitary confinement, given him access to documents to prepare his defence, given adequate access by his legal team, increased his visitors’ access, ensured his mail is not withheld? I haven’t seen anything concrete that his legal team have done to get him out of this murderous situation. Craig Murray hinted that they have something in the offing which must, for now, remain secret but time is something Julian doesn’t have.
It is time to admit that what is happening to Assange rises to the SAME level of political persecution that Nelson Mandela experienced. NO ONE can deny this is about elites trying to “keep the serfs” in line. The abuse of a truthteller and a man of courage should be striking!