World

Julian Assange’s Health Is Failing Due To Prolonged Confinement

Ian Miles Cheong Contributor

Julian Assange’s prolonged confinement at the Ecuadorian embassy in London may be taking a serious toll on the WikiLeaks founder’s health, according to two doctors who recently assessed his condition.

The two physicians, Sondra Crosby, a doctor and associate professor at Boston University, and Brock Chisholm, a London-based clinical psychologist, examined Assange’s health for 20 hours over a span of three days last October.

The medical assessment offers updated details on Assange’s health since WikiLeaks published documents in 2016 detailing his mental and physical condition.

This week, the pair shared their findings with The Guardian, co-written with Sean Love, another physician, with the permission of the WikiLeaks founder.

“While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare,” they wrote, arguing that Assange has a human right to proper medical care that isn’t being met due to his confinement.

The doctors state that they had little option but to examine Assange in a poorly ventilated conference room due to his lack of access to medical facilities.

“Although it is possible for clinicians to visit him in the embassy, most doctors are reluctant to do so,” they wrote. “Even for those who will see him, their capacity to provide care is limited. At the embassy, there are none of the diagnostic tests, treatments and procedures that we have concluded he needs urgently.”

The doctors say that his health has been in decline ever since he first stepped into the embassy five years ago, and continues to deteriorate the longer he stays confined to the premises.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid an extradition request by the Swedish government over allegations of sexual assault. In 2017, Swedish prosecutors chose to discontinue the investigation, but British authorities stated that they still intend to arrest him if he left the embassy.

“It is the opinion of the working group that the embassy is not equipped for prolonged detention and lacks the necessary medical equipment or facilities to provide a reasonable environment for Mr Assange – a determination with which we concur,” wrote Crosby and Chisholm, who have called upon their peers in Britain to demand safe access to proper medical care for Assange.

“Experience tells us that the prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention inflicts profound psychological and physical trauma above and beyond the expected stressors of incarceration. These can include severe anxiety, pathological levels of stress, dissociation, depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, among others,” they wrote.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.