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article imageOp-Ed: US withholds key evidence against Assange in extradition hearing

By Ken Hanly     Dec 15, 2019 in Politics
The Trump administration's efforts to extradite Julian Assange the Wikileaks founder to the US from the UK are facing several questions including Assange's health as well as withholding crucial evidence against him from his legal team.
Assange's health:
The journalist John Pilger tweeted: "Do not forget Julian #Assange. Or you will lose him. I saw him in Belmarsh prison and his health has deteriorated. Treated worse than a murderer, he is isolated, medicated and denied the tools to fight the bogus charges of a US extradition. I now fear for him. Do not forget him."
Nells Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned Assange's treatment and cited its negative effects on his health: "“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. " The UK simply ignores such warnings.
Assange kept in prison after his sentence served
Even though Assange's prison term has been served he is still held in prison until his extradition hearings are over: " Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is to remain in prison when his jail term ends because of his "history of absconding", a judge has ruled. He was due to be released on 22 September after serving his sentence for breaching bail conditions.But Westminster Magistrates' Court heard there were "substantial grounds" for believing he would abscond again." It looks as if the UK legal system is out to punish Assange in line with the UK government.
US is withholding evidence from Assange's legal team
As the US is withholding evidence against Assange, it will be exceedingly difficult to mount an adequate argument against Assange being extradited, The withholding of such evidence is contrary to US law. No doubt much of Assange's legal team's defense will be based on the fact that they do not have all the evidence against him,
It could be argued that the US is not acting in good faith in relying upon secret evidence. Assange is hardly being afforded a fair hearing. If he is extradited he is likely to face an unfair trial in the US. If the UK goes along with this charade it can only tarnish the credibility of the UK justice system.
UN's Melzer claims Assange would not have a fair trial in the US
Melzer urges that Assange not be extradited to the US: "Given the strongly perceptible public and official prejudice held against Mr. Assange in the United States, there are serious reasons to doubt that he would receive a fair trial before an impartial judicial body as required under human rights law. I underscore my most serious concern that, if Mr. Assange were to be extradited or otherwise surrendered to the United States... he would be exposed to a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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