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’Doctors for Assange’ seek release of WikiLeaks founder over coronavirus concerns

Friday 20 March 2020, by siawi3


’Doctors for Assange’ seek release of WikiLeaks founder over coronavirus concerns

Photo: Buildings are reflected in the window of a car as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail seven years ago, in London on May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

By Andrew Blake

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Advocates for jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cited in his susceptibility to the global coronavirus pandemic in a plea sent Wednesday to officials in his native Australia.

Doctors for Assange, a group of nearly 200 medical professionals concerned for the Aussie’s health, urged the Australian government to intervene in light of prisoners like the WikiLeaks publisher being at increased risk of becoming infected with the novel coronavirus while incarcerated with other inmates.

“Julian Assange’s life and health are at heightened risk due to his arbitrary detention during this global pandemic. That threat will only grow as the coronavirus spread,” the group wrote.

Mr. Assange, 48, has been jailed since last April at Belmarsh Prison in London, where he is being held pending the outcome of an extradition trial that will determine whether he should be sent to the U.S. to face criminal charges related to releasing classified U.S. documents through his WikiLeaks website.

Addressed to Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and sent to her colleagues in Canberra, the letter is the latest in a series sent by Doctors for Assange seeking his release from custody and an end to the extradition proceedings.

“We further extend our previous appeals to demand that the Australian government heed not only doctors’ warnings, but those of respected legal and human rights bodies and authorities, many of which are calling for the U.S. extradition request to be denied and Julian Assange’s incarceration and extradition trial to be ceased, in the name not only of medical ethics, but human rights and rule of law,” they wrote in the letter.

Ms. Payne did not immediately return a request for comment.