An RM reader has sent this letter to key Australian MP’s, hoping for common sense and common law to prevail. Please forward this letter to your local MP to help ensure the innocent truth-seeking journalist is released soon.
As a matter of urgency, I ask that you press our Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne to make an urgent and strong request to the UK Secretary of State for Justice to have Julian Assange released on home detention with a 24hr ankle monitor, at the very least, during the COVID-19 health crisis.
The evidence of the disproportionate treatment of Julian Assange in the UK is undeniable. Kevin Rudd, Bob Carr, Nils Melzer, and The Parliamentary Group to Bring Assange Home to have all noted examples of the irregularity and unfairness of his treatment in the UK calling it “disproportionate”.
Julian Assange is not a convicted prisoner and has a right to a presumption of innocence yet he is being abandoned to die in UK’s most harsh and notorious maximum-security prison by his own nation.
How is this right or proportionate? Do you agree that a non-violent remand prisoner who is not even charged or convicted of any crime should be continuously exposed to conditions which directly threaten his right to live, let alone his basic dignity?
Belmarsh prison is now rife with COVID-19 with most symptomatic inmates not even being tested and 150 plus staff in-home quarantine. The prison is barely coping. A Belmarsh inmate has died of COVID-19 only in the past few days. Julian Assange now spends almost 24 hours in solitary confinement yet his 30 minutes in the exercise yard is spent crowded with other prisoners and not in keeping with social distancing measures. He no longer has access to any psychiatric treatment due to staffing issues and will not have access to his lawyers.
The Prison Governors’ Association recently said that 15,000 non-violent inmates should be released from British jails to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Justice Department then suggested releasing just 4,000 of them. Only 100 people have been set free so far.
Iran – a country maligned by our allies as human rights violators – has released a British-Iranian journalist and aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and thousands of other inmates, as part of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The UK considers Nazanin a victim of political persecution by Tehran yet the UK refuses to release our Aussie political prisoner and it seems would rather see him dead. Why is our government not calling the UK government and UK’s injustice system out on its human rights violations of Julian Assange as determined by the United Nations?
I would like to see Iran also release Dr Kylie Moore Gilbert however it is important to note that at least she was actually in Iran when she was accused of breaking Iranian laws. Julian Assange was not in the US when he published the US war crimes and should not be answerable to US laws. If extradited to the US he will face twisted espionage laws, in a secret Virginian court, that has never before been used against anyone for an act of journalism. He will be simultaneously refused the protection of the First Amendment. This totalitarian act of extraterritorial reach is an attack on Australia’s sovereignty and sets a very dangerous precedent against journalists worldwide.
Julian Assange fits all of the criteria of a prisoner which should be released during the COVID-19 crisis.
- He is a non-violent prisoner and is no threat to the public.
- He has a chronic lung condition which makes him vulnerable to dying if infected.
- Belmarsh Prison has known cases of COVID-19 with one death reported already
- COVID-19 measures further exacerbate Assange’s professionally assessed severe symptoms of psychological torture.
The World Health Organisation, The United Nations and the UK Prisoners Association are calling for ALL non-violent prisoners vulnerable to COVID-19 to be released during the COVID-19 crisis.
Yet only a week ago District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied Julian Assange’s lawyers’ urgent request to have him released to home detention in the UK with a 24hr ankle monitor.
Our Prime Minister says, “No Australian will have to go through this (COVID-19) alone”. Why then does he not use his significant diplomatic leverage to, at the very least, press the UK Secretary of State for Justice to have Julian Assange relocated to home detention with a 24 hr ankle monitor? Outside of Belmarsh Assange might finally have access to desperately needed independent health care, he would be able to for the first time in years have a private conversation with his lawyers and he would have a life-saving break from the conditions which exacerbate his symptoms of psychological torture. All of which are essential for any possibility of a fair trial. Our Prime Minister also says Julian Assange “will get no special treatment” yet he has not intervened to press the UK and the USA to desist it’s “special treatment” against Assange.
Recently it was determined by District Judge Vanessa Baraitser that the extradition trial will continue in May despite the obvious disadvantage this bestows on Assange’s defense during the COVID-19 health crisis. She has, as an unnecessary act of cruelty, also denied Julian Assange’s partner and children their right to anonymity in their appeals for his bail.
Do you not find it worrying that Judge Emma Arbuthnot, who was pressed to stand down from Julian Assange’s case last year due to obvious conflicts of interest, has refused to disqualify herself and remains in a supervisory role overseeing the trial with her subordinate District Judge Vanessa Baraitser on the bench?
Given her determining conflict of interest, is it not also a conflict of interest that she was allowed to choose the succeeding judge to then supervise? This is the same so-called “judge” who, from her professional role and rather unprofessionally and without provocation, publicly labeled Assange as a “narcissist”. Her smear, which has no medical basis, was gleefully reiterated via the Murdoch press.
While I do the socially responsible thing and stay at home and school my child during the COVID-19 crisis, at a significant loss of personal income, Julian Assange is abandoned by our government to die in prison without any possibility of a legitimate and fair trial against a world superpower. This is truly awful modeling of the “fair go” Australian way and severely undermines our government’s credibility in the public’s eye.
According to 60 minutes and Alan Jones polls, the vast majority of Australians expect our government to intervene and ensure that Assange is released and free to return to Australia.
Please do the right thing for Australia and press our government to finally stand up for our Australian citizen and the rule of law.
Citizen X, on behalf of Julian Assange and concerned Australians.
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