the rising tempo of julian assange’s murder in belmarsh gitmo

‘Slow, cruel assassination’: Mother blasts US & UK for treatment of Assange’, 11 Aug, 2019, RT.com


“Julian Assange’s mother has accused the US and UK governments of “slowly, cruelly and unlawfully” killing the WikiLeaks co-founder because he revealed war crimes and corruption.

“My son Julian Assange is being slowly, cruelly & unlawfully assassinated by the US and UK Governments, for multi-award winning journalism revealing war crimes & corruption!” she wrote.

She also tweeted a link to a report from a United Nations expert who called for a stop to the “collective persecution” of the journalist.

Assange is currently incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison after being arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April. His visitors have repeatedly raised concerns about his health. As recently as last Wednesday, journalist John Pilger said his condition was “deteriorating” and that he was being treated “worse than a murderer.”

‘Julian Assange: Deprivation of Justice and Double Standards in Belmarsh Prison, August 28, 2019, Nina Cross, 21stcenturywire.com

“On cue, HM Belmarsh Prison’s high security regime has so far proved crippling for Assange’s hopes of mounting a legal defence.  It is now public knowledge that government officials at Belmarsh have imposed restrictions which effectively deny Assange sufficient legal visits, deny him the ability to speak to his US lawyers, deny him access to and possession of legal documents, and deny him the basic means through which to prepare for his legal defence, namely, a laptop computer.

For those readers who may not be versed in legalese, the following points passages will demonstrate how one can measure Belmarsh’s treatment of Assange against recognised protections and guidelines, such as:

Article 6.3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which is of particular significance for prisoners (Assange clearly qualifies a political prisoner) and states that detainees must:

“… have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence…”

The Council of Europe (CoE) has produced a definition of what this means in a guide on Article 6 of the ECHR:

  1. The “facilities” which everyone charged with a criminal offence should enjoy include the opportunity to acquaint himself, for the purposes of preparing his defence, with the results of investigations carried out throughout the proceedings. 
  2. In order to facilitate the conduct of the defence, the accused must not be hindered in obtaining copies of relevant documents from the case file and compiling and using any notes taken

NOTE: During Assange’s US extradition court hearing in June, Assange himself was adamant that he had not even received the text of the US indictment against him and said that he had to have essential legal documents posted to him. His legal team also reiterated that preparation for his defense was being impeded and that access to their client was being restricted by the British government. It is difficult to argue that this strategy is not intentional.”  [long legalese snip]

“If we believe that barriers to Assange’s ability to defend himself against extradition are justified on the criteria given by a ‘overstretched and underfunded’ high-security prison system, then we are merely consenting to the erosion of law and accepting in its place rules imposed by the administrators of the state’s institutions – at the expense of an individual’s liberty. These justifications for denying Assange his basic legal right to justice are convenient pretexts for Belmarsh which, on cue, has been co-opted by a political agenda which seeks to enable his rendition to the US.

Double Standards: the Belmarsh ‘prison experience’ according to the governor”

I’ll let you read from that point, as I’d like to include some major excerpts from the following heart-piercing & enraging interview (I’ve received permission from the site to use as much content as I choose):

‘Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson: They are trying to break Assange “physically and psychologically”, Oscar Grenfell, 28 August 2019, wsws.org


Earlier this year, Johnson wrote an extensive fivepart investigative series titled “The Psychology of Getting Julian Assange,” published on the New Matilda website. Johnson provided the following responses to a series of questions from the World Socialist Web Site earlier this week.

WSWS: John Shipton and John Pilger have recently detailed the punitive conditions of Assange’s detention in Belmarsh Prison. Could you speak about the way in which his isolation, and the denial of his right to access computers/legal documents is aimed at stymieing his defence against the US extradition request and increasing the psychological pressures upon him?

Lissa Johnson: If anyone takes a moment to imagine what it must be like to face the prospect of 175 years in a US prison, having already been subjected to nearly a decade of arbitrary detention and judicial harassment, knowing that you have no chance of a fair trial in the US, having been smeared in the media and branded a “terrorist” and enemy of the state, then that gives you an inkling of what Julian Assange was dealing with even before being placed under lockdown in Belmarsh prison. If you add to that having read hundreds of documents from Guantanamo Bay and knowing, in intimate detail, what the United States does to those it brands terrorists and enemies of the state, then Julian Assange’s reality becomes even clearer.

Now, with the full force of the US national security state bearing down on him, Julian Assange has been stripped of his most basic abilities to protect himself. He is denied even the ability to view the documents in his case, in order to inspect and understand the evidence against him. He is denied regular contact with his lawyers, and access to a computer. In other words, he is forced, day and night, do nothing but wait, helplessly, for whatever wrath the US government intends to unleash upon him.

This is beyond barbarically psychologically cruel. Emotionally, it is akin to holding someone bound and gagged in the basement while their assailant stands outside sharpening their knives.

As if all of this weren’t enough, Julian Assange is also being deprived of one of the most fundamental human psychological needs, which is human contact. Even without the threat of US extradition, the kind of isolation that Julian is suffering is deeply damaging to human beings. We are social animals and need social connection.

For that reason, prolonged solitary confinement of more than 15 days has been defined by the United Nations as torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Beyond 15 days, solitary confinement is considered “prolonged” because some of the adverse psychological effects can become permanent.

As well as causing a wide range of serious psychological disturbances and physical health problems, the reduced stimulation of solitary confinement can cause decreased brain activity, which may become irreversible after just seven days. Concentration and memory impairments can also occur, and can persist after solitary confinement ends.

The implication is that subjecting Julian Assange to social isolation is not only cruel and inhuman, it may well be damaging his cognitive capacity to engage in his own defence and fight his cause going forward.

Inflicting conditions with the potential to weaken and destroy one of the great minds of our time in this way, thereby turning him into an easy target, is reprehensible.

WSWS: As a clinical psychologist, can you comment on the treatment that Assange should be receiving?

LJ: Julian Assange is suffering because he is being abused. The intervention required to ameliorate his deterioration is to cease his abuse.” [snip]

“A simple and imperative starting point would be to grant him access to social contact, including regular visitors of his choosing, both personal and professional, including legal and health professionals and friends, family and colleagues. This would alleviate the isolation that will inevitably seriously adversely affect both his physical and mental health, now and into the future.

An equally simple and immediate intervention would be respecting his human right to prepare his defence. This would involve granting him access to lawyers, documents, the internet and a computer. That would at least reduce the sense of helplessness he must be experiencing, and restore some sense of efficacy, control and agency, which are psychologically essential factors in coping with threat and danger.” [a long snip discussing Nils Melzler’s findings]

WSWS: You have previously written about the way in which the persecution of Assange has drawn upon methods of psychological warfare employed by the intelligence agencies. Could you elaborate?

LJ: In counterintelligence, which has been deployed against WikiLeaks since 2008 according to leaked documents, a key tactic is to exploit adversary vulnerabilities. A maxim in psychological operations is also that an adversary is more hurt by desertion than by slaughter.

Next there’s a form to fill out for emails concerning Julian Assange and Chelsea Mannnig. This portion on media psyops is epic:

“With this in mind, I wrote a series of articles about the ways in which the psychological vulnerabilities in the human reality-processing system have been exploited over many years in order to smear Julian Assange, and drive desertion from WikiLeaks. I placed this in the context of a 2008 Defence Department cyber-counterintelligence document that outlined a plan to destroy the “trust” at WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity.”

Put briefly, the human reality-processing system is vulnerable to exploitation in that it is driven powerfully by emotion. Unless human beings are particularly motivated to be accurate, emotion tends to unconsciously direct our thinking much of the time, such that we accept versions of reality that “feel” true. So pervasive is this tendency that one scholar of cognition has described reason as a “gun for hire” in service of emotion.

In the case of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, this human vulnerability has been relentlessly exploited by pairing Julian Assange’s name and face with negative associations and emotions, thereby pinning an emotional bullseye to his head, causing negative information to stick. Using such methods, including via Russiagate, every effort has been made to turn reality on its head such that peace is bad, war is good, truth is dangerous and censorship will set us free. The ultimate goal has been gaining public consent not only to persecute Julian Assange and “take down” WikiLeaks, but to treat public interest journalism as public enemy number one.

WSWS: What has been the role of the media in this campaign?

LJ: The establishment media has provided the vehicle by which this campaign has been waged. Outlets such as the Guardian, the New York Times, cable news channels, the ABC and tabloid media, have faithfully paired Julian Assange’s name and face with selected negative terms, concepts and emotions, over and over and over again, priming automatic unconscious negative emotional responses to Julian Assange.”

See for instance, wsws.org’s ‘The ABC documentary “Hero or Villain”: Undermining the defence of Julian Assange’, August 12, 2019 [neon-yellow ‘journalism’ with a lengthy description, as well as any number of smears against against Julian by the Intercept]

“This has served to foster emotional receptivity to demonising, misleading, counter-factual narratives on Julian Assange, along with narratives that rationalise and minimise his persecution, all of which have been woven from distortion, omission and outright fabrication. The scale of the censorship by omission, including media blackouts on critical pieces of information that undermine official narratives, has been staggering.

In the context of collective violence and atrocity, media that smear targets in this way function as instigators. Their role is to incite passive by-standing by creating what psychologists call an “atrocity generating situation.” In atrocity-generating situations, brutality is normalised and victims are demonised, dehumanised and debased, causing the public to morally and emotionally disengage from their abuse.” [snip]

WSWS: You have spoken before about the role of WikiLeaks in exposing the torture techniques employed in Guantanamo Bay, and how this was a significant contribution to our understanding of the misuse of psychological techniques. Could you explain?

LJ: WikiLeaks’ Guantanamo Files contained not only several hundred classified reports, but also the full Standard Operating Procedures Manual for Guantanamo. Together, along with exposing torture and the detention of innocent men, these files revealed the involvement of Behavioural Science Consultation Teams, including psychologists, in designing the abusive tactics used at Guantanamo.

That evidence, as revealed by WikiLeaks, helped a group of psychologists in the United States known as Psychologists for Social Responsibility to hold the American Psychological Association accountable over its unethical collusion with the Department of Defence and the CIA, including psychologists’ participation in horrors at Guantanamo. For this reason, the psychology profession owes WikiLeaks and Julian Assange a great debt of gratitude. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have helped us to defend the ethics and integrity of our profession.

I wish more psychologists understood this, and felt a sense of responsibility to do the ethical thing in return, by standing up for Julian Assange now that he is suffering the very same unethical psychological tactics that he helped to expose and combat.”

To further the cause of Julian Assange’s freedom, do anything that is legal and within your power to do: attend rallies, write to your politicians, call your politicians, then call them and write to them again, sign petitions, be informed, share accurate information on social media, correct misinformation, talk to family and friends, find out what actions and initiatives already exist in your area and join them. Searching the #FreeAssange or #FreeAssangeRally hashtag on Twitter is one way to learn about events, which are rarely if ever reported in the establishment press.

In short, exercise to the fullest the democratic rights and freedoms that Julian Assange is fighting to defend, while you still can.”

Last, via Wikileaks on Twitter: ‘Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange, Greg Bean, 16 August 2019, michaelwest.com

“It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.

Greg Bean likens the revolutionary work of Julian Assange to that of Johannes Gutenberg who invented the printing press. Government reaction, 580 years later, is similarly savage.”

It’s long, and includes this 20 minute Consortium News video:

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

WTF are we supposed to do about this???

Hopefully there are enough people in Britain with the guts, ability, and resources to stage a breakout or something, but what am I supposed to do when I'm halfway around the world, strapped for resources, and legally disabled?

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

as well as your condition. if you're on any social media, you can spread the word, but wsws told and asked lissa:

WSWS: The WSWS and our world party have called for the formation of a Global Defence Committee, to coordinate international actions aimed at securing Assange and Manning’s liberty. What do you think of this proposal?

LJ: I think that it is a vital and imperative initiative. The WSWS and the Socialist Equality Party are at the forefront in standing up against the torture and persecution of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, and breaking the cycle of collective violence. I commend the WSWS and its world party for taking the lead in this way, organising actions around the world, and providing essential information to correct the dangerous false narratives about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

and they do keep constant track of global vigils, protests, etc., although they are not all that well-attended, for obvious reasons.

boris johnson as PM of the UK?

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@wendy davis ...is that they're all in one of 3 categories:

- politics is verboten;
- the politics are fixed;
- the site itself is a cancerous POS that is fueling the zombie thought-plague and ought to be shut down.

I HATE social media.

If I had to choose between the Internet now and the world before the Internet, I'd choose the latter in the blink of an eye.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

do the nasty facebook, where would we be without Wikileaks on twitter, #Unity4J on twitter, mama and papa assange, same, and all the rest? for a time some of the related accounts were taen down by twitter, as was nicolas maduro english, the FM of iran, and so on.

i guess even with the limitations and power of those 'media' to decide, i'd rather have them...than not. really, i'd rather have the internet as well, for so many reasons.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@wendy davis ...but I think these things have proved to be just as useful to Big Brother in dividing, conquering, despoiling, distracting, degenerating our intellects, and turning people into mindless zombie mobs. My personal "gold standard of Evil" is the mindless raging mob; Hitler, by way of contrast, was merely the itty-bitty cobweb-filled head of a Hobbesian Leviathan.

EVERYTHING would be different without the Internet - or better yet, with the Internet frozen in the year 2005, which is when I'd say it peaked in all respects. It's not as simple as "we wouldn't have the tools we have now" - we'd have other things. Think a "steampunk" world, if you like, save with weirdly-advanced 1980s-1990s technology in lieu of Victorian (I call it "cassettepunk").

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

major divisive downsides, esp. via social media. and think how many people would yell: "you'll have to pry this iphone out of my cold...dead...hands!" a president and candidates who announce policy by tweet? save me from that hell!

media sites that are all like the integrity initiative, eliot higgins' and friends 'crowd-sourced bullshit news' (can't think what it's called), 'news guard' apps on apple phones, the beat goes on and on. but...here you are...online, as am i. but i'm a blogger by vocation, and have been for a long, long time. sometimes the hilarious keyboard warrior is all that's left when one can't actually get out in the world.

but still, if nothing else, you might want to take lissa's recommendation to heart:

To further the cause of Julian Assange’s freedom, do anything that is legal and within your power to do: attend rallies, write to your politicians, call your politicians, then call them and write to them again, sign petitions, be informed, share accurate information on social media, correct misinformation, talk to family and friends, find out what actions and initiatives already exist in your area and join them. Searching the #FreeAssange or #FreeAssangeRally hashtag on Twitter is one way to learn about events, which are rarely if ever reported in the establishment press.

or start your own rally in your locale, or even write to J; they all say he loves getting mail:

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wendy davis's picture

media news power is one thing; media determining how one feels about the news is absolute power!

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the harsh conditions Assange suffers?

serious question.

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

slaves to the US empire. the longer answer is that the Imperium has courted ecuador with bribes, and wants to include that nation into NATO in order to fight the pink maduro regime in VZ. a wee bit of background, not at all comprehensive, but due to a quick search, sorry it's in spanish, but:

and moreno was VP to rafael correa who'd felt the justification to allow julian sanctuary into the embassy to begin with. dated, but nonetheless:

correa weeps for assange, and was betrayed by some IMF loans ad 'nato protection' by moreno.

on a.m. edit: oh, bother; i doubled up. sorry, my mouse is very sticky. dunno what the second tweet was even supposed to be by now..

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@wendy davis @wendy davis

I meant how do they justify solitary confinement and all the rest.

Such conditions are imposed on violent and dangerous prisoners. Assange has only been convicted of a minor bail-jumping offense.

Do they claim he might break out of prison?
He would seem to be a candidate for least punitive conditions.

It is clear they are torturing him. But do they offer any reason at all for the horrible treatment of him?

Thanks for keeping his name present here.

Edit- I see that he is not being held in solitary confinement. My mistake.
The problem seems more about meeting with lawyers,etc. So that he is unable to mount a defense.

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

had sent him there.

"Judge Deborah Taylor sent Assange to category A Belmarsh prison for a bail-skipping offense, even though he’d demonstrated that he had good reason to skip bail.

It is difficult not to conclude that the category A assignment was done so that he would be weak and vulnerable. In essence, Assange was sent to Belmarsh for 50 weeks for failing to turn up at a police station. There was no ongoing court case; he had no prior offenses; there were no charges; the Swedish investigation had been dropped. So skipping police bail was all the British government had. It should also be pointed out that Judge Taylor made a series of mistakes during the sentencing on 1st May, referring to rape charges in Sweden, which Assange corrected and which she then acknowledged were wrong.

This indicates that Judge Taylor went into court at least uninformed, set in her mind that Assange had somewhere, somehow been charged with rape. This would seem to explain some of the reasoning behind Judge Taylor’s cruel sentencing, described by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as ‘disproportionate’ but also as furthering the arbitrary deprivation of Assange’s liberty. What’s more, it has been pointed out how several thousand people in the UK skip bail each year and are in now way subject to such harsh punishment."

again, doing CIA King Pompeo' biding: J thinks, as do i, that the espionage charges came due to WikiLeaks having published the CIA vault 7, and iirrc, part of Vault 8. and if extradited to the US, he'll likely be slammed w/ more, as there have been offers of immunity to more people: again, iirc, joshua schulte who'd apparently leaked those vaults, as well as now-enemy dumsheit-borg (in the video) and more.

i might have added more to this in the OP, but i'd thought if readers might want to look for more: ‘Julian Assange: Deprivation of Justice and Double Standards in Belmarsh Prison', August 28, 2019, Nina Cross, 21stcenturywire.com

i'd never even heard of this bloke tommy robinson, but his face looks like it needs a good smack across it. ooppsie: one love, wd.

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

he IS in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, and that he's let outdoors for that hour if it's not raining. hence, the major concern that not only is he being medicated with unknown drugs, but that his cognitive abilities are decreasing daily.

at his original extradition hearing before judge emma arbuthnot by skype, it was said that he was barely coherent, according to attorney jen robinson. it may have been then that 'lady' arbuthnot told him that he'd been free to leave the embassy whenever he felt like it, face the music (in sweden), and he'd be setting himself free.

arbuthnot is famously married to a rabid tory MP, meaning she should have recused herself for that and previous incendiary comments she'd made to, and about julian.

iirc, the big deal extradition hearing is to begin at the end of february, and is expected to last for several days. what the hell kind of shape will be in by then? but 50 weeks in solitary for bail-jumping, OMG.

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@wendy davis

Although Assange is not held in solitary confinement, the Special Rapporteur said he is gravely concerned that the limited frequency and duration of lawyers’ visits and his lack of access to case files and documents make it impossible for him to adequately prepare his defence in any of the complex legal proceedings piling up against him.

This in Metzger's statement concerning "Assaange's conditions of detention" which is linked in your "August 28,2019" reference.

I too had heard he was down for 23 hours a day. Maybe that is not considered solitary. But I wanted to note that Metzger has said "not in solitary."

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

but there certainly are conflicting reports. maybe melzer was shown what they wanted hm to see?

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@wendy davis

The statement I gave was not a direct quote from Metzger but is made by the author of the piece on Metzger's report. Sorry.

I have looked at other sources which confirm 23 hours a day in cell this spring and call it solitary confinement in "general terms". For example-

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/world/pamela-anderson-to-visi...

Cruel and inappropriate for a bail-jumper. They can call it what they want.
Am showing OCD symptoms and will stop. Thanks again.

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wendy davis's picture

g' night.

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lotlizard's picture

and last but not least Dem party candidates for office who are willing to speak up for whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange?

PEW, PEW, PEW . . . (= “Progressive Except on Whistleblowing”) ?

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

i'm sure there are some aside from waters, pamela anderson (mr. wd said she was on 'baywatch'? some artists...ai weiwei's been to belmarsh to visit julian... candidates? tulsi gabbard tweeted support for him a few months ago, bernie sanders says he shouldn't be charged under the espionage act... i don't recall hearing of others, but i'm pretty out of the candidate loop.

but look, even here: 10 thumbs, five individual commenters? cripes, at consortium news john shipton was scheduled to be on with more guests on other issues, but i tried to put the cafe version of this diary on the comments stream, and they wouldn't let in thru moderation...twice i tried. i said it would answer some of the Qs a couple commenters had. but wtf? they have to block solidarity in their proprietary pissiness? sorry, it's just all so frustrating.

somewhere in the twittersphere there's a new petition to scott morrison, australian PM, who laughs about assange's slow-mo death, for all the good it will do. would a mass letter-writing campaign to the thug pompeo help?

the sound is bad on this, but daddy shipton reading his other son's letter to morrison:

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wendy davis's picture

long time, meaning we both have so many chores to do before we sleep. so i'll close with these bagpipers in sydney sending him goodwill and music.

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