JOHN PILGER: Visiting Britain’s Political Prisoner

“I think I’m going out of my mind,” Julian Assange told John Pilger at Belmarsh Prison. “No you’re not,” Pilger responded. “Look how you frighten them, how powerful you are.”

By John Pilger
Special to Consortium News

I set out at dawn. Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is in the flat hinterland of south east London, a ribbon of walls and wire with no horizon. At what is called the visitors centre, I surrendered my passport, wallet, credit cards, medical cards, money, phone, keys, comb, pen, paper.

I need two pairs of glasses. I had to choose which pair stayed behind. I left my reading glasses. From here on, I couldn’t read, just as Julian couldn’t read for the first few weeks of his incarceration. His glasses were sent to him, but inexplicably took months to arrive.

There are large TV screens in the visitors centre. The TV is always on, it seems, and the volume turned up. Game shows, commercials for cars and pizzas and funeral packages, even TED talks, they seem perfect for a prison: like visual valium.

I joined a queue of sad, anxious people, mostly poor women and children, and grandmothers. At the first desk, I was fingerprinted, if that is still the word for biometric testing.

“Both hands, press down!” I was told. A file on me appeared on the screen.

I could now cross to the main gate, which is set in the walls of the prison. The last time I was at Belmarsh to see Julian, it was raining hard. My umbrella wasn’t allowed beyond the visitors centre. I had the choice of getting drenched, or running like hell. Grandmothers have the same choice.

At the second desk, an official behind the wire, said, “What’s that?”

“My watch,” I replied guiltily.

“Take it back,” she said. 

So I ran back through the rain, returning just in time to be biometrically tested again. This was followed by a full body scan and a full body search. Soles of feet; mouth open.

At each stop, our silent, obedient group shuffled into what is known as a sealed space, squeezed behind a yellow line. Pity the claustrophobic; one woman squeezed her eyes shut.

We were then ordered into another holding area, again with iron doors shutting loudly in front of us and behind us.

“Stand behind the yellow line!” said a disembodied voice.

Belmarsh prison, where Assange is incarcerated.

Another electronic door slid partly open; we hesitated wisely. It shuddered and shut and opened again. Another holding area, another desk, another chorus of, “Show your finger!”

Then we were in a long room with squares on the floor where we were told to stand, one at a time. Two men with sniffer dogs arrived and worked us, front and back.

The dogs sniffed our arses and slobbered on my hand. Then more doors opened, with a new order to “hold out your wrist!” 

A laser branding was our ticket into a large room, where the prisoners sat waiting in silence, opposite empty chairs. On the far side of the room was Julian, wearing a yellow arm band over his prison clothes.

As a remand prisoner he is entitled to wear his own clothes, but when the thugs dragged him out of the Ecuadorean embassy last April, they prevented him bringing a small bag of belongings. His clothes would follow, they said, but like his reading glasses, they were mysteriously lost.

For 22 hours a day, Julian is confined in “healthcare”. It’s not really a prison hospital, but a place where he can be isolated, medicated and spied on. They spy on him every 30 minutes: eyes through the door. They would call this “suicide watch”.

In the adjoining cells are convicted murderers, and further along is a mentally ill man who screams through the night. “This is my One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he said. “Therapy” is an occasional game of Monopoly. His one assured social gathering is the weekly service in the chapel. The priest, a kind man, has become a friend. The other day, a prisoner was attacked in the chapel; a fist smashed his head from behind while hymns were being sung.

When we greet each other, I can feel his ribs. His arm has no muscle. He has lost perhaps 10 to 15 kilos since April. When I first saw him here in May, what was most shocking was how much older he looked.

“I think I’m going out of my mind,” he said then.

Assange on way to Belmarsh Prison, April 11, 2019. (Twitter)

Assange on way to Belmarsh Prison, April 11, 2019. (Twitter)

I said to him, “No you’re not. Look how you frighten them, how powerful you are.” Julian’s intellect, resilience and wicked sense of humor – all unknown to the low life who defame him — are, I believe, protecting him.  He is wounded badly, but he is not going out of his mind.

We chat with his hand over his mouth so as not to be overheard. There are cameras above us. In the Ecuadorean embassy, we used to chat by writing notes to each other and shielding them from the cameras above us. Wherever Big Brother is, he is clearly frightened.

On the walls are happy-clappy slogans exhorting the prisoners to “keep on keeping on” and “be happy, be hopeful and laugh often”.

The only exercise he has is on a small bitumen patch, overlooked by high walls with more happy-clappy advice to enjoy ‘the blades of grass beneath your feet’. There is no grass.

He is still denied a laptop and software with which to prepare his case against extradition. He still cannot call his American lawyer, or his family in Australia.

The incessant pettiness of Belmarsh sticks to you like sweat. If you lean too close to the prisoner, a guard tells you to sit back. If you take the lid off your coffee cup, a guard orders you to replace it. You are allowed to bring in £10 to spend at a small café run by volunteers. “I’d like something healthy,” said Julian, who devoured a sandwich.

Across the room, a prisoner and a woman visiting him were having a row: what might be called a ‘domestic’. A guard intervened and the prisoner told him to “fuck off”.

This was the signal for a posse of guards, mostly large, overweight men and women eager to pounce on him and hold him to the floor, then frog march him out.  A sense of violent satisfaction hung in the stale air.

Now the guards shouted at the rest of us that it was time to go. With the women and children and grandmothers, I began the long journey through the maze of sealed areas and yellow lines and biometric stops to the main gate. As I left the visitor’s room, I looked back, as I always do. Julian sat alone, his fist clenched and held high.

This article is based on an address John Pilger gave at a conference on Julian Assange in London on Thursday night after he had visited Assange earlier in the day. 

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: In 2017, the British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important documentaries of the 20thcentury. Some of his previous contributions to Consortium News can be found here.  

80 comments for “JOHN PILGER: Visiting Britain’s Political Prisoner

  1. Terry Randell
    December 3, 2019 at 05:31

    Thank-you for some truth and light about Julian . I as an australian citizen who would like to send sincere apologies and heartfelt concern for the complete LACK of sovereign support of the australian so called govt.The chinese have a saying/curse/wish.. May you live in interesting times. Julian Assange is not mad. He believed truth and transparency are our real protections.
    That is the truth.
    The torture methods of govts are disparagement, isolation, manipulation, propaganda ridicule, whisper campaigns, creating circumstances for paranoia…the list goes on

    We are all political prisoners at this time in history.
    How we conduct our responses is more important than ever.
    Thank you John Pilger and thank you Julian Assange for being true to the best traditions of Australians
    A mate is in danger…Let’s lend a hand and support

  2. Paul Ellis
    December 2, 2019 at 16:24

    Thank you, Mr. Pilger

  3. ikallicrates
    December 2, 2019 at 14:37

    I don’t know if Julian Assange is going out of his mind, but I do know this world is.

  4. Shirley Ferguson
    December 2, 2019 at 11:58

    I believe it would be helpful to again publish many of the actual Wikileaks D.N.C. & Podesta e-mails, particularly the one which lists the journalists & news outlets that were “under the thumb” of Hillary Clinton. The content of many e-mails offer hints & clues as to the possible explanations behind his persecution. I doubt the MSM provided easy access to this information so the general public is therefore inclined to accept the MSM portrayal of Assange as a traitor. This hero needs all the public support he can get.

  5. Litchfield
    December 2, 2019 at 07:37

    Heartfelt thank-yous again to John Pilger, and to CN for sticking with Julian when those who SHOULD have defended him have cast him to the dogs.
    And, most of all, to John for visiting Julian regularly.
    You are the one keeping him alive.
    And to Craig Murray for his ongoing advocacy.
    The outside world needs to understand what such a detention center really is.
    So this detailed description is important.
    Belmarsh compromises the freedom of all who come in any kind of contact with it (literally), making them potential detainees.
    Belmarsh sounds like Kafka’s worst nightmare come true.

  6. December 1, 2019 at 22:14

    The world organization fighting for the rights of journalists is PEN. They have branches in many western countries. They fight for people in many lands but are silent on Assange.

    Incredible. They have a huge profile. Couldn’t individuals and writers pressure them to fight for Julian?

    • jmg
      December 2, 2019 at 16:59

      A little hidden, but at least PEN International and some national branches — English PEN, PEN America… — have published several statements on Julian Assange. Of course they could make them more visible, given the landmark legal precedent for journalists and publishers this case is going to establish.

      For example, this is their statement on the hurried signing of the US extradition order by the then UK Home Secretary, former banker Sajid Javid:

      “PEN International and English PEN are disappointed by Sajid Javid’s decision to sign a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States, particularly as he could face the risk of serious human rights violations. It took Javid only two months to rule on this request, in sharp contrast to other extradition cases where the Home Office took several years examining the case, before signing the order.

      “Once again, we urge the judicial authorities in the UK not to extradite Assange to the US, as the charges are far-reaching and set a dangerous precedent that could affect the legitimate work of journalists and publishers everywhere.”

      (United Kingdom: Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States — PEN International — Update 13 June 2019)

  7. Semi Super LJ
    December 1, 2019 at 19:46

    Mr. Pilger you are a very good writer. This piece is direct and to the point regarding the absurdly inhumane treatment of Julian Assange. You would think that the ALL POWERFUL STATE would not resort to such techniques and would rather error towards compassion. But of course that will never be the case. Possibly this article could give some people who visit CN and who have never been on the wrong side of the Law a sense of how far things have gone regarding the technological aspect of Maximum Security and so-called security risks. Retinal Scans and face recognition technology are already street ready. It only awaits complacency from the public to allow the Empire to institute DOMINION all the way down to street marches and accordingly over any dissidence whatsoever. This is important and people should be aware of such things. Thank you for your life long commitment to Journalism and any and all efforts you make to spread the news about the plight of Julian Assange. It is very sad that things have gotten to this point. I wish I could say I am surprised that they have.

    • Super duper LJ
      December 3, 2019 at 14:56

      Yesterday RT published an article you may want to read . The Department of Homeland Security has reversed it’s position and now will implement a policy that is unpopular to anyone with a brain or who believes in rule of law and the Bill of Rights. . All passengers leaving the USA to anywhere will soon have to go through face recognition terminals . I do not make this stuff up. I do not claim to be psychic or prescient .Word up. In the future, the state, intelligence, security whatever you want to call it will monitor the movement of citizens through AI programs that include retinal scans and Face Recognition Technology and even DNA . Unless,,,,,..,

  8. December 1, 2019 at 17:11

    Thank you to John Pilger for so vividly sharing the reality of Julian Assange’s incarceration. And, thank you to Consortium News for being one of the few media outlets that closely covers the case of Assange, Chelsea Manning and others who are serving the public interest by letting the world know the truth about the actions of the United States and its allies among them, the UK and Sweden, which have played such a destructive role in the case of Assange.

    Pilger’s report and the other information we know about the treatment of Assange must be a call to action for each of us who understand what is happening to do all we can for his release. A mass uprising by people in support of Assange can be determinative of the outcome. The corporate media, that has benefited from the work of Wikileaks and Assange, will be pushed to speak out more. Elected officials can be pushed from neutral to taking action. People can make a difference. We must do all we can to support this heroic publisher, editor, and journalist who has exposed truths that the United States, UK, transnational corporations and others who have wanted to keep their misdeeds and corruption hidden.

    Drop the charges against Assange. Free the heroic whistleblower, Chelsea Manning.

  9. December 1, 2019 at 05:08

    The “incessant pettiness” there reminds me of the phrase “the banality of evil”.

  10. Dr. Brian Everill
    December 1, 2019 at 04:54

    Thank you Julian for your sacrifice. I hope against hope, that those who persecute you for your willingness to tell the truth about their wickedness will pay for their despicable moral-bankruptcy. You are a true light in the darkness, please know that there are many throughout the world who keep you in their hearts.

  11. SRH
    December 1, 2019 at 04:46

    As a former prisoner with six years’ experience of British prisons up to 2017, I can verify the truth of Pilger’s account. Visiting times are made to feel cruel in many establishments, although some have made efforts to make the time more valuable with family areas, organised activities and longer visits. However, I suspect that Belmarsh is one of the many which have no interest in helping inmates or families, excusing the petty and major cruelties in the name of security, a term which is the excuse throughout the system for all kinds of unnecessary deprivations and depredations.

  12. December 1, 2019 at 03:13

    I do believe El Chapo may be getting better treatment and he’s a genocidal international drug dealer. This is a disgrace for all of us, but the US wants him dead and they don’t care where it occurs. If he is sent to the US he will never see the light of day and will ultimately be executed as an international terrorist. The message is clear. This is what we will do to all whistle blowers, and this idea of a free press.

    • SRH
      December 1, 2019 at 04:47

      In what way was el Chapo “genocidal”? I really would like to know, as I thought he was merely another psychopathic man taking advantage of the USA’s racist War on Drugs.

  13. November 30, 2019 at 23:48

    Thank You John Pilger for this. Tragic and tragically unjust tho it is.
    The scenes you describe, and the impressions built by your words, especially about the guards, leaves me baffled as to how we, as a species, but, my being born in Australia, how the British, can have so fallen to being so against moral, ethical and therefore legal basics and principles, as to being as cold as the guards and facilities at Belmarsh are.
    My own decades-long observations, learning and writing on human and environmental justice issues has it that humans, at least of the western hemisphere’s nations and cultures, have been “fallen” pretty-much exactly as the bible tells, since, “the fall from Eden”.
    Metaphor or allegory tho that may be.
    So getting to the root causes of why both laws and people allow such outright insane conditions to develop, finds the origins are indeed, most ancient.
    Julian and WikiLeaks so Righteously did Justice for us all, in exposing the latest rendition of our long “off-the-Golden-Path” modern ways, as played-out by the criminally-insane American and British justice systems and their falsely justified “9/11”, then the WMDs lies, and invasion of Iraq, from 2003 to now.
    Julian and WikiLeaks have ignited more Humans then ever into realizing our own inherent, entirely natural Justice mindedness, and our Common recognition that it is up to us all to Stand and Defy the insane elites forcing such conditions on any, like Julian, who know their Duty is to Speak Out and Stand Up, when tyranny gets a hold on power.
    England and Britain have many who are of like-mind, and so it’s disturbing that institutes like Belmarsh and or the overall legal system there prevails with such ignorant dracionianism.
    What sorry states of mind has overcome those who work at Belmarsh? One might wonder how many find it unworthy of living and working in, and who of the prison staff commit suicide?
    Praise them, if they do! For that is surely the More Noble Path for a prison guard, than to daily issue such callous commands, especially to any who like Julian are of the Best of all of us?
    And what sickness must pervade all in the justice system right across the UK, (this, across the Commonwealth, and the globe), that no number of them have the Merit, the gumption, to merely state that;

    THE COURT IS CORRUPT! Therefore, We, The British Judiciary, find we have NO OPTION, but to RECUSE ourselves, so we, in Honor, with Dignity, may demand that we, TEST THE LAWS, which incriminate these, our World’s Best Journalists, Lawyers, and Citizens alike!

    But alas? Britons thrive on the spoils of Britain’s endless wars against the world, of Humans and of Nature!

    Nevertheless! It remains, what with the likes of Judge Michael Snow being so cowering as he proved himself to be, for Britons to RISE UP themselves, and make straight their own legal system.

    And the extent of corrections is, it seems, way beyond any British organization, strong enough, to Unite over, and to organize JUSTICE, for Julian, so, for all in the (hohoho) “United Kingdom”?

    What heinous and tyrannical “culture” could possibly have overcome those once Mighty Britons from Doing the Correct Thing, and bringing down the corrupt landlordal system?

    Thank you again, John, for your Strength, of HEART!


    For, to myself, Julian Assange is a God! An Immortal!



  14. Coleen Rowley
    November 30, 2019 at 22:47

    Thanks Jon Pilger for this update! Meanwhile is there any update on Chelsea Manning? Does she also still sit in prison too? And are there any prospects of her being freed? I could not find any recent news update on her situation.

    • L. Vincent Anderson
      December 1, 2019 at 16:30

      She has posted recently on Twitter.

  15. NorthStar
    November 30, 2019 at 21:38

    It seems obvious to me that the time has arrived to maximize the coordinated organization of support groups both in the U.K., and USA that, wherever feasible, will investigate the potential for suing the bejeezus out of institutions in the U.K., and in all probability, the USA as well, that become involved in prosecuting the Assange/Wikileaks fiasco. Pro bono lawyers should be lining up now to defend Assange and the journalistic right-to-publish and corresponding free speech value system he represents.

    Similarly, press/media organizations and ad hoc citizen groups need to begin assembling direct and indirect commentary lines associated with local media outlets such as talk shows and weekly newspapers, but particularly oriented toward the large corporate electronic and print behemoths and their public feedback mechanisms; various legal and judicial professional organizations; university-level journalism schools and their publications; university law schools and law reviews; and any governmental organizations that conceivably might have exceeded their authority in any legal context whatsoever., together with numerous other organizations and journalists, such as John Pilger, has done great service thus far in keeping the public aware of the disproportionate and debased ill-treatment of Assange over the years. Perhaps a list should be compiled with appropriate publicly available contact information for government organizations that have a responsibility in prosecuting the Assange case both here and abroad. The list should also include the publicly available contact information for responsible politicians who have an interest in the anticipated Assange hearing/trial regardless of whether or not they become officially involved in the case. The time has arrived to let these folks know that a huge broohaha is in the making with people the world over who will defend the values of a free press and an open society as exemplified by Assange and like-minded journalists.

  16. November 30, 2019 at 11:18

    Shame on us all as global citizens to allow this to happen. Hatred can only prevail when good people do nothing. My gratitude and thoughts to you both. Anything about this brave man on social media, which is very little, I share to try and do something. Thank you Julian, thank you John from the Rep of Ireland.

  17. Jill
    November 30, 2019 at 10:57

    As we have become a visual media culture I wonder if recreating this on video would be helpful? It might reach people in a way that words alone do not.

    Thank you for continuing to speak out!

    Please don’t fat shame. The guards being fat is not what makes them sadistic. Remember, this torture is ordered by finely dressed, perfectly thin, well dressed and enormously wealthy nazis. Being large in body mass can matter in that it can provide one method to subjugate others. However, many people who are thin are trained how to subjugate others physically with brutal alacrity (such as people in special forces.). I believe it weakens the case you make when you accept the terms of the oppressing societies to explain oppression.

    Thank you again for speaking out!

      November 30, 2019 at 12:36

      John Pilger’s address along with other Assange supporters has now been published.

    • Ali
      November 30, 2019 at 22:05


      John Pilger wasn’t “fat shaming”. He is a journalist and a writer. He was simply describing in detail exactly what he saw. If you take offence at this accurate description of events, that’s on you! It doesn’t change the facts just because you are offended by them. You are deflecting from this very important story… the story of the gagging and torture of a publisher who revealed US war crimes.
      We need to focus on one thing… FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!

    • SRH
      December 1, 2019 at 04:52

      The description of a guard as “fat” was necessary, especially when such a person assaults an inmate: the amount of pain produced by the assault is likely to be greater. In my time inside British prisons, I was surprised at the high level of obesity amongst the guards, as I wondered how they managed to do their job. When there’s an alarm sounded, all guards in the vicinity must run to it. A fat guard cannot do so.

    • The Solitary Reaper
      December 1, 2019 at 07:04

      “Please don’t fat shame. The guards being fat is not what makes them sadistic. Remember, this torture is ordered by finely dressed, perfectly thin, well dressed and enormously wealthy nazis. Being large in body mass can matter in that it can provide one method to subjugate others. However, many people who are thin are trained how to subjugate others physically with brutal alacrity (such as people in special forces.). I believe it weakens the case you make when you accept the terms of the oppressing societies to explain oppression.”

      Mr. John Pilger did not fat-shame. And no, his description did not weaken his case. If anything, it paints a very clear picture and screams a “call for action” to the readers .

      It clearly juxtaposes the wire thin starving prisoners (or at least Julian Assange) and the heavier cops.

      When multiple cops literally jump over a person and sit on the person, they crush the person harder if the cops are heavy.

      Mr. Pilger’s description also symbolises the choking level of oppression perfectly.

      To an underweight person, a heavy person is intimidating-particularly in settings where those who are heavy are allowed to physically crush you and you are stripped off all ability to protect yourself, let alone defend yourself against such cruelty.

      You pondered if recreating Mr. Pilger’s words into a video would help. Mr. Pilger’s description of the cops did just that.

    • Litchfield
      December 2, 2019 at 07:43


      If people are fat, a reporter will report them as fat if he feels like doing so.
      If they are too thin, he /she will report that too.
      In this particular case, Pilger describes fat people who are guards in a prison where Julian Assange is in part being starved to death.
      It is like seeing—and noting—fat guards in Auschwitz.

  18. Rob Key
    November 30, 2019 at 08:58

    Is this the best the great “British Empire” can do? What an embarrassment to the normal decent population. This man has exposed evil war criminals and cowboy Yank soldiers. He deserves high praise and more. Thanks John for helping Julian.

  19. Rosaleen Kehoe
    November 30, 2019 at 06:10

    Your kindness and courage are an example to us all John.
    As Nils Melzer , UN special rapporteur on torture stated in an extraordinarily powerful address recently about this very same psychological torture you describe so poignantly, the illegality of his detention will not only have a chilling effect on journalism, rather it portends the end of journalism, democracy and the rule of law and a grim future for all of us in the West.

  20. Eugenie Basile
    November 30, 2019 at 06:01

    How they must regret not having ‘droned’ him…..
    The longer he is kept in these hellish conditions, the more he becomes a symbol for freedom of speech.
    Assange is one of my fundamental proofs that our western system of so-called Democracy is rotten to the core.

  21. November 30, 2019 at 05:11

    John, thank you so much, you’re to me the best journalist there is. Your courage and generosity knows no limit. Thank you for your effort to bring justice and peace to the hero Juliana Assange

  22. Tim Jones
    November 30, 2019 at 04:21

    When legal associations around the world are mostly afraid to challenge and other governments and heads of religions…these catch all laws the Deep State has cooked up, then the noose is already around our necks. I think we’re all feeling it. The effects of this repression are now on an international scale. Never before in history has this occurred.

  23. Oren Medicks
    November 30, 2019 at 03:38

    Thank you John, for your so valuable testimony.
    We are living in very dark times indeed but your voice brings light.

    November 30, 2019 at 03:29

    We are so grateful to you, John, for your wisely circumspect and encouraging update. I was very relieved to read it. I am in Texas and post daily reminders on social media for Americans to continue being aware of the threat to Julian of extradition to the US…and to encourage resistance of that disastrous possibility.

    It is a comfort to know that you reassure him of the love and gratitude that so many of his sisters and brothers have for him—for his courageous sacrifices, for his brilliant work on our behalf, and for his obvious caring for all people.

    Thank you, John and Julian

  25. Mark Davis
    November 30, 2019 at 03:01

    Thanks, as always, Pilger.

  26. Monica dahlby
    November 30, 2019 at 01:34

    Thank you John Pilger .

  27. John Gilberts
    November 29, 2019 at 22:31

    Pilger’s report makes me very angry. There is a whole world of people like us, here reading this, feeling repulsed and enraged by what is done to Julian Assange so boldly, so openly, so publicly, without a necessary reACTion to end it. How much longer will we stare at a screen waiting for someone else to do something? For goodness sake let’s all make a very loud and unrelenting noise because ultimately we will have to live with this and how it ends, no matter how highly developed our obedience, evasion and denial has become.

    • Monica dahlby
      November 30, 2019 at 01:45

      I am on my way to Stockholm to join the demonstration for Julian. But can nothing but cry over the situation. Been writing letters to all sorts of people in power. Even the queen!!!!. But we still are not many enough. The world is too evil.

    • November 30, 2019 at 06:32

      Yo creo en Julián Assange, en personas como Chelsea Manning y John Pilger. También creo en un mundo mejor.

      Si todos unidos defendemos la Verdad y luchamos por una Justicia justa, tarde o temprano la maldad y las mentiras serán derrotadas.

      Ley “Causa y Efecto”.

      Libertad & Conciencia & Verdad & Honestidad & Integridad & Lealtad & Justicia

      ??Maldad ?? Manipulación ?? Injurias ?? Traición ?? “Miedo” ?? Deslealtad ??

  28. T.J
    November 29, 2019 at 21:55

    “It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most will conquer”. Terence MacSwiney.
    It is astounding how one man can frighten and terrify large nations. Julian Assange is imbued with this remarkable capacity.

    • Michael
      November 30, 2019 at 11:26

      They trying to break him down,.. julian needs to stay strong,.

      thank you john

    November 29, 2019 at 18:11

    Whoever has been beaten down must rise up ! Whoever is lost must fight back ! Bertolt Brecht.

    • Sophia
      November 30, 2019 at 03:08

      Easy to say if one is not the one who endures torture! We all know but can’t do anything apart of protesting while facebook&co busily gather our details. Thats part of the intention, isn’t it?

  30. Robyn
    November 29, 2019 at 17:40

    Is there no legal avenue for getting better conditions for Julian?

  31. Angela Kelly
    November 29, 2019 at 16:48

    Thank you John, if people in power were of yours and Julian’s calibre, what a great world we could create.

  32. John McCarthy
    November 29, 2019 at 15:47

    God Bless this man! We owe him so much.

  33. November 29, 2019 at 15:35

    Rather powerful description of the situation.

    And Good God, poor Assange is there having been convicted of nothing.

  34. Jo Hayward-Haines
    November 29, 2019 at 15:33

    It’s true. Julian exposes the violence of the state just by the way he is being treated. Bit damn it! This hurts.

  35. November 29, 2019 at 14:38

    Thank you for this and all of your updates and visits with Assange. Very sad, so important. Protest with me in Miami to Free Assange and to reign in the Medical-Military Industrial. More info at — protect truth-tellers, patients, and all of us, now!!

  36. Sam F
    November 29, 2019 at 14:19

    The issue on which so many are confused regarding Mr. Assange is Where does secrecy begin, and when is the publishing of secrets legitimate?

    Secrecy is legitimate when it protects strictly legitimate actions of government, which do not include foreign wars beyond the federal powers, never approved by the People. A legitimate secret would be details of the Normandy invasion before it began. War crimes, secret wars, and unconstitutional surveillance are not legitimate secrets. The Assange question depends upon that standard of legitimacy, which is clearly not met for any recent US war or surveillance policy.

    The US government will use its false definition of legitimate secrets, the sheep and opportunists of fake patriotism will agree, and so will the judiciary. The question of the the legitimacy of US foreign policy will never come up in court. But that is the question the People must decide now, to have a basis for viewpoints on Assange. Journalism may not be protected categorically, but government secrets are never legitimate, when in pursuit of policies never approved by the People.

  37. bjd
    November 29, 2019 at 14:07

    Thank you, John Pilger.
    Shame on Australia!

    • Susie Queue
      November 30, 2019 at 03:39

      Oh and shame on the UK they are the ones who have broken his human rights repeatedly and are by their corruption holding him illegally . Shame on the warmongering USA whose very patriotic identity revolves around its military. Shame on the weak government of Australia who kowtow to these war criminals

    • Milton Pena
      November 30, 2019 at 04:43

      Julian Assange sacrifice will never be forgotten. Shame on the British Government, shame on the British Judiciary, shame on the majority of British journalists and broadcasters who have kept silent or even attacked Julian. He is being incarcerated, tortured, humiliated because his goalers in the White House, the Pentagon and 10 Downing St want to send a message to journalists daring to emulate Julian. But hang on there Julian , you are on the right side of history.
      Thanks John Pilger for your unflinching support to a true hero of our times.

  38. Nathan Mulcahy
    November 29, 2019 at 13:52

    Tell me it is in the Gulag Archipelago… tell me it is in the evil Putin’s dungeon…. tell me it is in the communist China’s torture prison… Oh never mind. It’s in the west…

    Thanks for visiting hope. Assange is a hero.

  39. Susan Leslie
    November 29, 2019 at 13:42

    This makes me cry. Free Assange and free Manning!

  40. Terry
    November 29, 2019 at 13:03

    Try n stay strong man

  41. Debra J. Wilson
    November 29, 2019 at 12:48

    No words for what is happening to Julian Assange. Australia get off your ass or allow extradition if not he is gonna die in that f king prison. Unity4J

  42. bob
    November 29, 2019 at 12:15

    UK ….. a democracy upholding the rule of law ……….. ???????????????????

  43. November 29, 2019 at 11:56

    Thanks to John Pilger for this report, even though it is sad and horrifying. We all need to know what Julian is going through. The prison system is dehumanizing and criminal. So ironic.
    I hope Julian knows that there are legions of us who admire and support him and think about him every day. As John said, he is strong and is on the right side of history!

  44. jmg
    November 29, 2019 at 11:22

    I have no words…

    And, as many in the press/media, civil and human rights organizations, etc. are warning since Julian’s indictments, this unprecedented case is going to be *the legal precedent* for all journalists and publishers. Not just in the United States and the United Kingdom but around most of the world via extradition.

    There is now an open letter from a long list of medical doctors. How about an open letter from journalists and publishers?

    • Lily
      November 30, 2019 at 01:38

      “How about an open letter of Journalists and publishers?”

      The silence of these cowards is deafening. At least Germany’s Left Party has launched an “hour of questions” about Julian Assange in the Bundestag in the course of which Nils Melzer spoke about Assange being tortured in Belmarsh Prison. Makes me wonder how Angela Merkel, one of the most ardent US Vasalles is going to react.

      After letting the whole world know about the US war crimes in Irak this exceptionally brave man is now unveiling the sad truth about Western democracies. The street in front of the Magistrate Court should be crowded with protesters. The governments of the “Free World” should be protesting violently.

      Free Julian Assange! Free Chelsea Manning!

    • jmg
      November 30, 2019 at 09:43

      Lily wrote:
      > “How about an open letter of Journalists and publishers?”
      > The silence of these cowards is deafening. . . .

      Things are changing. After Julian’s superseding indictment — effectively converting investigative journalism and publishing into espionage, punishable with life in supermax prison — people are realizing the historic threat this is for democracy and for everyone, not just for the press/media:

      “Slowly but surely, the mainstream media firewall is beginning to fold regarding the mainstream media and political establishment’s silence and complicity in the unlawful detention and treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

      (CN LIVE! Guest Patrick Henningsen on Why Assange Case Must Be Media’s Priority — 21st Century Wire — Nov 5, 2019)

      About the possible open letter from journalists and publishers, probably many are already thinking about possible initiatives like this one, so I’m just adding a point of view.

      In order to be a widely reported and effective open letter, in my opinion it should be all-inclusive. That is, giving also mainstream journalists the chance to redeem themselves by supporting freedom of the press. Realistically, award-winning journalists and publishers should have priority in the letter, without excluding anyone.

      Publications and press/media organizations that have expressed opposition to the indictment and extradition of Julian Assange include for example:

      – Australian Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)
      – Bloomberg News
      – Blueprint for Free Speech
      – Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
      – Consortium News, independent journalism
      – Courage Foundation, legal defense fund for whistleblowers and journalists
      – Digital Rights Watch, Australia
      – Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
      – FAIR Media Watch
      – Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF)
      – IFEX, global network of organizations defending and promoting freedom of expression as a human right
      – International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
      – Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
      – National Union of Journalists, UK (NUJ)
      – Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
      – Reporters Without Borders / Reporters Sans Frontières (RWB/RSF)
      – The Guardian
      – The New York Times Editorial Board, now opposed to the indictment of Julian Assange
      – The New Yorker
      – The Washington Post
      – WikiLeaks, press/media organization publishing whistleblowers’ public interest disclosures
      – . . .

      Great journalists and publishers who are defending Julian Assange, and therefore freedom of the press, include (in addition to the Consortium News journalists):

      – Aaron Maté, journalist
      – Abby Martin, investigative journalist, founder of the Empire Files
      – Alan MacLeod, journalist
      – Alex Christoforou, journalist
      – Alexander Mercouris, journalist
      – Amy Goodman, broadcast journalist
      – Ari Melber, attorney and journalist for NBC News
      – Caitlin Johnstone, writer, journalist
      – Cassandra Fairbanks, political activist and journalist
      – Cenk Uygur, broadcaster, The Young Turks
      – Charles Glass, award-winning journalist, author, broadcaster, publisher
      – Chris Hedges, award-winning journalist
      – Dan Cohen, journalist, filmmaker
      – David Talbot, journalist, author, founder of Salon magazine
      – Dean Baquet, The New York Times’ executive director
      – Ewen MacAskill, Scottish journalist, The Guardian
      – Gareth Porter, award-winning investigative journalist, historian, author
      – Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
      – James Risen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
      – Jimmy Dore, stand-up comedian, political commentator
      – John C. O’Day, journalist
      – John Pilger, award-winning investigative journalist, documentary film maker
      – Jonathan Cook, award-winning journalist
      – Kerry O’Brien, award-winning Australian journalist
      – Kevin Gosztola, journalist, author, documentary filmmaker
      – Kristinn Hrafnsson, Icelandic investigative journalist, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks
      – Lee Camp, stand-up comedian, writer, journalist
      – Margaret Kimberley, editor, columnist, author
      – Mark Curtis, British historian and journalist
      – Marty Baron, Washington Post’s executive director
      – Matt Taibbi, author, journalist, contributing editor for Rolling Stone
      – Max Blumenthal, journalist
      – Michael Brooks, host of The Michael Brooks Show
      – Michael Tracey, journalist
      – Natália Viana, Brazilian investigative journalist
      – Patrick Cockburn, award-winning journalist, Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times and The Independent
      – Rania Khalek, journalist
      – Robert Fisk, award-winning journalist, author
      – Robert Parry, late award-winning investigative journalist
      – Sally Burch, journalist and human rights activist
      – Serge Halimi, editorial director of Le Monde diplomatique
      – Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, author
      – Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist for la Repubblica
      – Tucker Carlson, journalist
      – Vanessa Beeley, journalist
      – . . .

  45. robjira
    November 29, 2019 at 10:09

    “Another holding area, another desk, another chorus of, ‘Show your finger!’”
    I know which one I would’ve shown…
    Thank you, Mr. Pilger, and especially thanks and strength to Mr. Assange.

  46. Robert
    November 29, 2019 at 09:44

    The reactionary right-wing mindset of Democrats is no better illustrated than by their attitude toward Julian Assange, press freedom and legitimate whistleblowers. Democrats control the House and can easily pass legislation recommending charges against Assange be dropped and he be freed.

  47. Andrew F
    November 29, 2019 at 09:37

    Sorry, but this is just 100% “Hillgrove” (the PR agency running PR for Assange appointed by Jen Robinson and/or Wikileaks).

    Fits the whole fabricated narrative of “Julian is dying, but he is strong and defiant etc…”.

    Over 20 months since this formerly prolific speaker/commenter has been gagged by those around him, and yet again we get a story designed to terrorise us – but with no direct, credible message out from Assange. That is the definition of “Gate-keepers”.

    The “lost 15 kilograms” constant means that at least he hasn’t lost any weight since May, so at least that’s one good sign.

    Getting really sick of this charade – as John Lennon famously sang: “Just Gimme the Truth”. If Julian is perfectly OK with everything being run this way, then just come right out and tell us so. No more BS from the inner-circle.

    I see the deadline for Wikileaks to sue the Guardian has now passed with over $60,000 raised but no lawsuit filed.

    If Julian Assange represents anything at all to supporters around the world it is the value of simple factual truth over spin and manipulation. The people controlling this current narrative are acting against his interests as far as I can see.

    • Joe Lauria
      November 29, 2019 at 16:43

      Anything Assange says to a visitor is being listened to by the guards, and as John Pilger points out, there were cameras overhead. You have no free speech in a prison (and in Julian’s case he ultimately didn’t have it outside it as well.) 

      What do you think would happen to Assange if he uttered something political to a visitor or said something even critical of his prison conditions? There is no writing notes back and forth in the prison, as Pilger describes happened in the embassy. Remember, they took paper and pens away from the prison visitors. 

      Even if Assange were able to whisper something substantial about politics, or his prison conditions or about his legal case (remember the CIA had a contractor to spy on his legal visits in the embassy) it would be highly irresponsible for any visitor to repeat it publicly.

    • anon4d2
      November 29, 2019 at 18:00

      Well, if you knew that “the deadline for Wikileaks to sue the Guardian has now passed with over $60,000 raised but no lawsuit filed” why did you not do so or notify others, or if there was cause not to do so, why not let us know? And why do you suggest that Mr. Assange is “perfectly OK” when obviously he is not? You appear to be the insider seeking to control the narrative.

    • Maricata
      November 29, 2019 at 18:36

      Joe is right, as a lawyer I am aware that all eyes and ears watch and listen in prison.

      However, given that we have not heard from Assange and given the fact his lawyers have some strange bedfellows, as I commented above, how do we know what to believe.

      I have heard that Assange is or might be being dosed with BZ. For more on BZ, a powerful psychedelic I first learned of through Martin Lee’s book, The Beast Awakens, and that was part of MK Ultra, is there any news on this claim?

      And who appointed Brandin and Robbins as his lawyers?

      Andrew F. comments:

      “If Julian is perfectly OK with everything being run this way, then just come right out and tell us so. No more BS from the inner-circle.”

    • ML
      November 29, 2019 at 18:49

      You can’t shame the shameless – nevertheless, you, Andy F are a cruel, disdainful person. Just what the world needs one more of… the likes of you.

    • ToivoS
      November 29, 2019 at 19:01

      Joe you are much too kind with Andrew. No way that this creature has any interest in Assange’s best interests.

    • T.J
      November 30, 2019 at 04:59

      Andrew F you are either naive, innocent or just playing the devil’s advocate. Julian Assange is no ordinary prisoner. Nils Melzer the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture stated that, “there has been a relentless, unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr Assange, not only in the US but also in the U.K, Sweden and more recently Ecuador”
      He continued “in the course of the past nine years, Mr Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse, ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination. In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic States grouping up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time with so little regard to human dignity and the rule of law. The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now”.
      Those you accuse of “controlling this current narrative” are speaking out only because Julian Assange has been silenced.

    • anon4d2
      November 30, 2019 at 08:12

      Maricata: despite your statement that “his lawyers have some strange bedfellows, as I commented above” you had not made any other comment here, and no other comment used the words lawyer, lawyers, Brandin, or Robbins. Do you have any some cause for suspicion of Assange’s lawyers, or are you sowing discord for the wages of secret agencies? Why did you quote the insinuation of “Andrew F” without adding fact or argument? Did you also make that comment? Please say what you mean.

  48. Mara Moreau
    November 29, 2019 at 09:33

    Thank you John for your support and encouragement of Julian. Thank God he has a friend like you. My husband and I held a banner outside the prison a few weeks ago in Julians support, tho we had to move off crown land. Julian couldn’t know we were there but it mattered that we went. We’re Aussies too but living in France. We stood outside the BBC and Guardian as well. Perhaps its insignificant but perhaps it makes it easier for others to take a step towards moving out of their comfort zone .

    • November 29, 2019 at 16:55

      So true. We all must do whatever we can.
      Bless you.

  49. Allan Donaldson
    November 29, 2019 at 09:21

    An impressive update. Provision of unwavering support, advice and encouragement by friends such as John Pilger remains essential for survival of Julian Assange while the travesty of justice he has endured for years in one Empire is being indefinitely prolonged at the request of another Empire.

  50. Lorese Vera
    November 29, 2019 at 08:45

    A powerful piece of writing by Pilger. How they dehumanise him – and us all, by such a place and such a process.

  51. Sally Snyder
    November 29, 2019 at 08:39

    As shown in an article, back in 2009, WikiLeaks released a fascinating document that clearly shows how the United Kingdom government should deal with groups or individuals that expose government secrets:

    viableopposition (dot) blogspot (dot) com the-existential-threat-of-investigative (dot) html

    Julian Assange’s treatment is, unfortunately, of no surprise given how the U.K. government planned to deal with rebels in their midst over a decade ago.

  52. AnneR
    November 29, 2019 at 07:34

    And we (in the western countries) have the nerve to point the finger at China and Russia and Iran and their law, justice and imprisonment practices.

    After reading Kinzer’s book on the CIA’s MK Ultra program – one dedicated to the testing of chemicals on unsuspecting people in and out of custody, torturing then killing the recipients of this “largesse” (much of it done in Japan and Germany because not on US soil, although that didn’t stop those scientists and agents working directly or indirectly for the CIA in the US from testing, using chemicals on hapless, uninformed civilians) – I am left horrified but, disgracefully, unsurprised. And as an example of the utterly criminal actions, sanctioned by both the US and UK governments, was a very similar (to Mr Assange’s) psychological torture treatment of Paul Robeson, a very principled, genuinely left-wing man who had been hounded out of the US by the FBI (another utterly amoral organ of the state) and the McCarthyite Russophobia of those days. Mr Robeson was kept in some form of psychiatric facility in the UK, drugged and otherwise psychologically tortured. Then after a couple of years allowed to return to the US a thoroughly broken-spirited man. (See Matthew Ehret’s piece from November 16 “Paul Robeson and the battle for the Soul of America,” on Strategic Culture.)

    Thank you for keeping us apprised of Julian Assange’s condition and informing us of the torturous, humiliating (deliberate of course) manner in which both prisoners and their visitors are treated. I have to admit that I do not understand why his lawyers aren’t more “confrontational” with the UK legal system, nor why Julian has to be the one doing the preparation for his kangaroo court appearances.

    May honesty and justice actually prevail.

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