Julian Assange, ex-publisher of Wikileaks who has been indicted with 17 counts under the US Espionage Act related to WikiLeaks’ 2010-11 publications: concerning US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassing US diplomatic details, US torture in Guantanamo Bay Prison and the publication of the Collateral Murder video, exposing war crimes and killing of innocent civilians including two Reuters journalists, may have been sentenced to death.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the world screeched to a halt, the prosecution of Julian Assange continues. Assange, who has significant dental problems along with a lung condition, life is at great risk if exposed to coronavirus. Assange’s lawyers made an emergency bail application two weeks ago for his temporary release. On March 25 Judge Vanessa Baraitser, rejected the bail application, stating that “No cases of COVID 19 having been confirmed in HMS Belmarsh.”
Assange, being held (bail violations) for the US extradition request in southeast London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, is “unwell,” and was unable to attend this hearing. COVID-19 has now hit Belmarsh prison. It has been alleged that there have now been four coronavirus cases among prisoners at Belmarsh, with one of them having died.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the British Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced that they were preparing to release thousands of low-risk inmates in England and Wales. Yet Assange was excluded from this temporary release. A Belmarsh prisoner list showed Assange being one of just two inmates of the 800 at London’s Belmarsh maximum-security prison who are being held for violating bail conditions (20% of prisoners are murderers, with nearly 2/3 violent offenders).
Dr. Jill Stein, the former Green Party Presidential candidate, has noted:
“Assange is at dire risk in UK prison. Even before #Covid_19 nearly 200 @Doctors4Assange called for his release due to health emergency. As a nonviolent prisoner awaiting trial he should be released on bail. If he dies, how is this not premeditated killing of a political prisoner?”
Assange has been rendered defenseless as the freedom of the press has been given a death sentence. COVID-19 maybe attacking mankind but an oppression contagion is killing journalism.