Dear WLsup, we cheered him on at every WikiLeaks release and got an education at http://www.wikileaks.org He is now imprisoned in Belmarsh, without family or social life, without Freedom. “Fight for me” he said to Ariya, behind the glass of the van that took him back to jail after a tyrannical court session at Westminster Magistrates court. We did not hear his voice but we read his lips. “Fight for me”, soberly, dignified his words call for us to act. Under the Covid-19 regime of social isolation, our pens, electronic or conventional are the tools of our trade, get those fingers run over the keyboards, those letters stamped and posted!. Here are some letters written by supporters to their Constituent MP’s. Send me more and I will put them up here!
Letter to Vicky Foxcroft MP for Lewisham Deptford
I am writing to ask that you demand the government listen to its expert advisors, the Howard League, Prison Reform Trust, Prison Officers Association and Prison Governors Association and release prisoners who are on remand, nearing the end of a sentence and those serving minor offences (either temporarily or tagged) to avoid a covid19 crisis which will end up killing many and endangering the public.
In a recent appeal to the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP and the chair of the UK Commons Justice Committee Bob Neill MP these organisations have stated:
“In their first open letter to the Secretary of State, dated Wednesday 1 April, the charities warned that failure to act immediately could lead to loss of life on an unprecedented scale.
Professor Coker’s report states that the risk of exposure to the virus to prisoners and staff is “far, far greater” than the risks to individuals in the wider community, adding that social distancing and personal infection control measures are “almost impossible” in prisons. It recommends that authorities “should consider alternative options to incarceration where feasible”.
As the virus continues to spread in prisons, prisoners who would otherwise be safe to release risk becoming critically ill in an environment not equipped to treat them. This puts not only their lives in danger, but also those of the prison staff trying to look after them.
I am particularly concerned for the welfare of journalist Julian Assange currently incarcerated without charge in Belmarsh prison where officially 2(many more are suspected of having died) prisoners have died and 150 staff are off sick.
Failure to act immediately will be a death sentence for many. Julian Assange is in a high risk group having a chronic lung condition due to being denied access to medical care by the UK authorities and now solitary confinement.
This is an emergency, no one should die when we know what needs to be done. And no journalist should die in a UK prison for being a journalist.
Letter to Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford
I am appalled by the cruel decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser and now the Minster for Justice, Lord Buckland not to free Julian Assange, on bail from prison. I fear in effect it is a death sentence.
I rang your office and now write to ask your assistance to ensure Julian is released on bail before he dies in prison of the Corona Virus. Already many people are contagious, one hundred of the staff are not working, they have stopped all visitors and prisoners are left permanently in their cells.
Julian already suffers from depression (following 10 years of psychological torture), has a chronic lung condition is hence in extreme danger of infection and death.
As any informed person knows this whole case is to silence a journalist and publisher, who has done a public service. He should be honored, not tortured to death. Despite this I have written several times to my MP who is ignorant of the facts and keeps repeating the claims of the US prosecution.
As the UN Rapporteur for torture stated you only need scratch the surface to see what is really happening with false allegations and smear by mainstream media. Here is the link of an article by the former UK ambassador, Craig Murray published in his blog.
Below (for ease) I copy part of his article.
“A recent report from Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhumane Treatment, presented during the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council (24 February – 20 March 2020), argues that the cumulative effects of Mr. Assange’s mistreatment over the past decade amount to psychological torture. If Mr. Assange was viewed as a victim of psychological torture, his extradition would be illegal under international human rights law.
117 medical doctors, including several world prominent experts in the field, had published a letter in the Lancet warning that Assange’s treatment amounts to torture and that he could die in jail.
Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has warned, he will effectively have been tortured to death. Much of that torture will have taken place in a prison medical ward, on doctors’ watch. The medical profession cannot afford to stand silently by, on the wrong side of torture and the wrong side of history, while such a travesty unfolds.
You may recall that I myself concluded that the extraordinary and oppressive treatment of Assange, and the refusal of Baraitser to act to ameliorate it, could only be part of a deliberate policy to cause his death. I could, and can, think of no other possible explanation.
If the authorities now refuse to allow him out on bail during the Covid-19 outbreak, I do not see how anybody can possibly argue there is any intention other than to cause his death.”
I ask you read the entire article since it also refers The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute’s (IBAHRI) condemnation of the treatment of Julian Assange, both whilst he had legal asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy and now held in solitary confinement in Belmarsh Maximum Security prison.
I plead your help in Government to free this innocent man, before it is too late.
When his communication officer Adrian Holle answered:
Thank you very much for contacting me, regarding your concerns about the coronavirus and your question about Julian Assange.
I wanted to you to know that I have received your message and am grateful to you for taking the time to raise this matter with me personally.
As your local M.P., please be assured that I will of course do all I can to assist you.
Firstly, let me reassure you that the NHS is well prepared to deal with incidents like this, and I am assured that the Government has a clear path to ensure the public is protected. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced strengthened legal powers to bolster public health protections against coronavirus. The regulations have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus. I am assured that the Government’s response is at all times completely in with all the best scientific advice on the matter.
In regards to your specific question about Julian Assange, As you will know, in May, as a result of Mr Assange’s failure to surrender in relation to his extradition proceedings, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.
You may also be aware that the Home Secretary recently signed an extradition warrant, following a request by the US Department of Justice. In making this decision, the Home Secretary had limitations on what could be considered, in line with the Crime and Courts Act 2013; judgments on human rights or health issues can only be made in court.
While I can understand your concerns about Julian Assange, I do not believe that he should be treated as a special case or that he should be released because of this outbreak.
By the time this email reaches you, the government may have updated their latest guidance on the coronavirus outbreak. You can check the guidance at http://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
In the meantime, if you require help or advice, please contact my Romford or House of Commons Office, the details of which are below.
The Constituent wrote again:
There are endless legal reasons why the UK government and courts should not be so eager to satisfy America’s request. For now I only focus on the cruelty aspect.
In my opinion there can be no justification for holding Julian Assange in solitary confinement in Belmarsh maximum security prison (built for terrorists and murderers), not for the past 12-months, nor now during the pandemic where the risk of him dying is extremely high.
Once again yesterday the cruel judge rejected a proposal of bail and insisted the trial will continue in May, even though the defence lawyers have no (and we’ll have no) access to, or communication with their client. Yesterday Julian was too ill to appear via video link and the judge proposed the names and addresses of his partner and their children be released to the media, thus exposing them to harassment. The defence have been given until Friday to appeal this proposal.
I was present during the first week of the trial in Woolwich Crown Court, deliberately hidden away from public eye. Visitors and media to the public gallery quewed from 6 a.m. each day in the rain to obtain access.
On the first day of his trial Julian was handcuffed 11 times, moved to five different cells and strip searched twice, all to humiliate and disorientate him. And finally he was held in a reinforced glass box, in the court and unable to communicate with his defence lawyers.
The fact we do this to a journalist or any human being and that our government is complicit in this cruel torture, makes me ashamed to be British. In every turn of this persecution, that is purely to silence a reporter, Julian’s human rights and legal process have been abused.
in case you are in any doubt of this matter I copy a link from the United Nations raporteur for torture. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24665&LangID=E
Also this link titled ‘Doctors Condemn Judge’s Refusal of Assange’s Emergency Bail Application Despite COVID-19 Threat’.
Thank you for your time. I hope now you will do something to prevent this journalist’s death in a UK prison.
Letter to Sir Bob Neill MP for Bromley and Chislehurst
I write to you to raise concerns about Julian Assange who is currently held in Belmarsh prison awaiting the conclusion of an extradition hearing. I am very concerned that he should be released before the coronavirus spreads through the prison population.
As a vulnerable prisoner whose health is already in jeopardy further isolation would be damaging in itself, let alone the threat that the virus breaks out inside the prison. The increased health risk means he should be released immediately. There is a high possibility that the prisons will cancel all social visits, as prisons in Northern Ireland have already done, which means it will be impossible for even his family and friends to visit.
The UK prison service has already begun releasing some low risk prisoners. Releasing Julian Assange and other vulnerable prisoners would reduce the risk of outbreak of the virus inside the prison. The Prison Officers Association and the Prison Advisory Service and the Shadow Justice Minister, Richard Burgon MP, have already called on the prison service to release low risk prisoners. Julian Assange is not in prison for committing any crime and is no threat whatsoever to the public. Please add your voice to those calling for his immediate release.
Thank you for your email. I’m receiving a huge volume of correspondence regarding COVID-19 so please forgive the brevity of my reply.
In one on my roles in Parliament I Chair the Justice Committee – a cross-party group of MPs tasked with scrutinising the work of the Ministry of Justice. I am, therefore, looking into the broader issue of prisons and their response to this epidemic closely.
I have set out my thoughts in detail in this article, published last week:
A reply to a Constituent by Mims Davies MP for Mid Sussex
Thank you for taking the time to get in touch regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak and Julian Assange. I am writing to provide you with the latest Government update on the matter.
It was announced today the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail from a British prison. The judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court rejected the request, saying the Australian’s past efforts to evade legal proceedings showed he might try to escape again if released and that “this global pandemic does not as of itself provide grounds for Mr Assange’s release,”, according to the Judge, Vanessa Baraitser.
Assange is wanted for questioning in the US for allegedly hacking and publishing military databases. The 48-year-old says the charges are politically motivated.
I would advise everyone to continue following the latest Government updates regarding the Coronavirus on the gov.uk website, as well as announcements on the news and in The Prime Minister’s daily press conferences, the link is as follows:
I hope this was helpful. This Government is determined to protect as many of our citizens and businesses as possible during this tough time ahead. I will continue to lobby on matters in Government on your behalf.
And Later after a follow up letter he replied:
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
I have forwarded your concerns on to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to raise these issues with the Ministerial Team there on your behalf.
Thank you again for getting in touch regarding this important matter.
Reply to Constituent by Bob Stewart MP for the Beckenham
I have little truck with Assange I admit but he is no more important in Bellmarsh than any other prisoner. Sorry but I will not be raising any concerns about Julian Assange.