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URGENT CALL - Release Julian Assange out of Belmarsh NOW!"

PETITION update

Sunday 5 April 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://www.change.org/p/urgent-call-release-julian-assange-from-belmarsh-now/u/26259765?cs_tk=AnvLspjVqQZ0JgV7jV4AAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvI1PvkstITUc8nAGfIeOn1M%3D&utm_campaign=aef534423f374ffd9a25eb0bf321dc8a&utm_content=initial_v0_4_0&utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_update&utm_term=cs

URGENT CALL - Release Julian Assange from Belmarsh NOW!

Davey Heller
Melbourne, Australie

5 avr. 2020 —

When this petition was launched in mid-November 2019, the torturous prison conditions being inflicted on Julian Assange was crippling his ability to access lawyers and legal documents which denied him his right to participate in his own defense. That is why the central demand was to move Julian “to a minimum security facility commensurate with his status of non-violent political prisoner on remand”, to remedy this situation.

However, the situation has changed. The rapid escalation of the covid-19 crisis in the UK means that Julian’s continued incarceration in Belmarsh poses an immediate threat to his life. Julian Assange’s legal team applied for bail on the grounds that Julian’s chronic health problems made him very vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus. This application was vindictively dismissed by Judge Vanessa Baraitser on March 25th. In this video Wikileaks Editor Kristin Hraffnson discusses how the conditions become more dire for prisoners in UK prisons by the day

As of Tuesday 1st April, sixty-five prisoners had tested positive for Covid-19 across 23 prisons, a tenth of the staff numbers in the prison workforce were in self-isolation, three prisoners had died

and all prisons in England and Wales were in lockdown with no visits allowed.

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAPDC) said prisons should only be housing ‘serious and violent offenders’ during the pandemic, with judgments made on a ‘case-by-case basis’. A spokesman stated:‘

In an unprecedented public health crisis, it is not fair or proportionate to commit prisoners, and staff responsible for them, to try to survive in insanitary, overcrowded institutions devoid currently of independent oversight. ‘People are sent to prison to lose their liberty not their lives.’

Emily Bolton, legal director of advocacy group Appeal, stated, “For the government to leave prisoners to die of Covid-19 behind bars when these deaths could be avoided is like leaving prisoners to drown in Orleans parish prison when the waters rose after Hurricane Katrina… time is running out to avoid minor offences becoming capital crimes, and life sentences from becoming death sentences.

Doctors4Assange released a statement on March 27th demanding Julian’s release from Belmarsh due to increased risk of coronavirus. They stated

Doctors4Assange” are additionally concerned that keeping Assange in Belmarsh not only increases his risk of contracting coronavirus, it will increase his isolation and his inability to prepare his defence for his upcoming extradition hearing, in violation of his human right to prepare a defence. Mr Assange’s lawyers have been increasingly restricted from visiting him as prisons lockdown visitation to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

These two factors are already major contributors to Mr Assange’s psychological torture, and we are alarmed that the combination of Baraitser’s decision, together with increasingly stringent prison restrictions in response to the pandemic, will intensify that very torture. This further increases his vulnerability to coronavirus.

It has also emerged that Julian Assange was one only two prisoners held in Belmarsh for skipping bail. Now he is only being held on remand. Given Julian Assange’s status as a non-violent remand prisoner, convicted of nothing and charged only because of his journalism he must be released from Belmarsh immediately!

This is why the central demand of this petition, which has now been signed by over 41,000 people was changed to the simple demand URGENT CALL - Release Julian Assange out of Belmarsh NOW!"

The text of the main petition has also been changed to reflect this new demand which can be read here

Unless this action is taken, the ongoing failure of the UK government and prison service to remedy this situation will be condemned around the world.

The release of Julian Assange should be part of a broader humanitarian release of prisoners from UK prisons where all low risks prisoners are released to help prevent mass deaths from Coronavirus within the prison system.

Even under these terribly trying circumstances of the pandemic and lock downs, we can and must use whatever means we have available to link together internationally and build a mass movement to Free Julian Assange and defend democratic rights! This petition is only one element of this campaign. Sign and share but people need to organise in their workplaces and communities to build the mass movement to Free Assange and save his life!

Please also sign the petition started by the Dont Extradite Assange campaign demanding the UK Government release Julian due to the Coronavirus crisis at the link below

https://www.change.org/p/release-julian-assange-from-belmarsh-prison-before-covid-19-spreads