Nils Melzer on Julian Assange
Published by marco on
This is an excellent interview with Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Melzer is not optimistic because the judgment was, essentially: the British court system agrees with all of the charges brought by the U.S. and agrees that, under their own laws, they would also prosecute Julian Assange for journalism.
The British prison system has deteriorated Assange’s mental condition to the level that he has strongly considered suicide and is mentally very weak. The British judge deemed the U.S. prison system—and Assange’s likely form of imprisonment on extradition—to be even more unfit and harmful and dangerous to the man’s life, amounting to capital punishment, which is, apparently, where Britain draws the line.
However, if Assange were to recover enough, then Britain would, of course, ship him to the U.S. because they agree that he’s guilty, guilty, guilty.
He was in jail for jumping bail when he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy. The British authorities were seeking him on Swedish charges that the Swedes had never really put into writing and would eventually retract for lack of evidence and witnesses. When he takes political asylum, he’s accused of jumping bail, which is, quite frankly, ludicrous, as it invalidates the notion of political asylum.
Even though it’s not legitimate to equate seeking asylum with jumping bail, Britain did exactly that. Why? Because they wanted to keep Assange in jail long enough for the U.S. to file extradition charges, which they did.
Britain sentenced Assange to the maximum prison time for jumping bail, which expired in April of 2020. Since then, he’s been in prison pending the results of the U.S. extradition trial.
The British courts found him guilty, but won’t extradite. The U.S. will appeal, though it’s hard to see what the argument will be. The two countries already agree on everything except whether the U.S. is allowed to torture Assange to death once they get him.
But, since the U.S. has appealed its frivolous case, the British government is happy to keep Assange in jail until all appeals are exhausted because he’s a flight risk. This could take years. So Britain and the U.S. have found a way to imprison and, more importantly, silence, Assange, while still pretending that what they’re doing is legal and above-board. This is standard fare for autocracies bent on convincing their populations that they’re actually civil republics.
It makes you wish for the honesty of true authoritarianism, which would just say “we put him in prison because we don’t like what he says and we want to use him as a warning to others who would speak out against us.”
Assange’s fate is similar to that of so many prisoners in the U.S., who don’t have a chance of getting out because they can’t post bail, so they languish in jail for years until they get a trial.