- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2019

Dozens of doctors worried about the health of jailed WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange reiterated their concerns with U.K. government officials in an open letter released Thursday.

A group of medical doctors who wrote to British authorities late last month regarding Mr. Assange’s health said in the latest letter that their concerns have not been acknowledged.

“In our opinion, the UK Government’s conduct in this matter is irresponsible, incompatible with medical ethics and unworthy of a democratic society bound by the rule of law,” the doctors wrote.

“We reiterate our grave concern that Mr. Assange could die of deliberate medical negligence in a British prison and demand an urgent response from the UK Government,” the doctors added.

The letter was addressed to Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC, the lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice in charge of the U.K. Ministry of Justice, and a copy was also sent to Priti Patel, the British home secretary. Neither immediately answered inquiries from The Washington Times.

Mr. Assange, a 48-year-old Australian native, has been jailed in London since April amid facing a U.S. extradition request connected to criminal charges brought by the Department of Justice related to his role running the WikiLeaks website and its publication of classified military and diplomatic material.

He is accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act and a federal computer hacking statute, and he faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in an American prison if extradited and found guilty.

Advocates for Mr. Assange have asserted his health has worsened while detained, and a torture expert for the United Nations warned last month that the WikiLeaks publisher may perish in prison unless the U.K. “alleviates his inhumane situation.”

The group of doctors — more than 60 spanning several countries — subsequently wrote the British home secretary late last month urging the U.K. to move Mr. Assange from London’s Belmarsh prison to a medical facility so that his physical and psychological health can be properly assessed.

“Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr. Assange could die in prison,” they wrote in the first letter. “The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.”

A spokesperson for the British government defended its treatment of Mr. Assange when reached for comment.

“The allegations Mr Assange was subjected to torture are unfounded and wholly false,” a spokesperson for the U.K. government told The Washington Times. “The UK is committed to upholding the rule of law, and ensuring that no one is ever above it.”

Extradition proceedings for Mr. Assange are currently set to start in London in February 2020. Representatives for two members of Parliament in his home country of Australia previously told The Times this week that they plan to travel to London to visit the jailed publisher early next year.

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