Assange: I'm 'Slowly Dying'

Vaughan Smith describes his call with the Wikileaks founder
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2020 5:15 PM CST
Assange: I'm 'Slowly Dying'
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a prison van traveling to Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Julian Assange says he's "slowly dying" behind bars, where he might be stuck in solitary confinement. British journalist and ex-Army officer Vaughan Smith, a friend of Assange, said as much after talking to the Wikileaks founder: "He said to me, 'I'm slowly dying here,'" Smith told Russian state TV network on Tuesday, per Gizmodo. "His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly. Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful and it was very upsetting to hear him. He didn't actually say he was sedated. It seemed fairly obvious that he was and the idea that he’s been sedated has come from several people who’ve visited him who have clearly been told."

Vaughan says Assange is "clearly" being held in solitary 23 hours a day, and the Express states that as fact. Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan whose work has involved torture victims, says "I know how they behave, and [Assange] is behaving exactly as a torture victim behaves." A UN official who spoke with Assange in October came to a similar conclusion. Back in May, Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks behind bars for skipping bail in 2012 and tossed in Britain's Belmarsh prison; this after he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking asylum. Solitary confinement can be considered a form of psychological torture under international law, although certain countries—the US included—still use it. (See what 60 doctors said about Assange's condition.)

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