UN expert joins calls for presidential pardon for Assange

UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has written an open letter to US president Donald Trump, becoming the latest in a chorus of voices calling for a pardon for Assange

December 23, 2020

In an open letter published on Tuesday, December 22, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer called on US president Donald Trump to pardon Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He has joined a chorus of voices within the US and around the world asking for a pardon for Assange.

In the letter, Melzer notes Assange’s vulnerability inside the high security prison in Belmarsh, United Kingdom, where a COVID-19 outbreak has reportedly infected dozens of inmates in his home block. Melzer stated that Assange already suffers from respiratory conditions and that his health has “deteriorated, to the point where his life is now in danger.”

“Mr. Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty for the past ten years,” writes Melzer. “This is a high price to pay for the courage to publish true information about government misconduct throughout the world.”

Melzer also highlighted that Assange is not an enemy of the people of the US. The letter points out that Assange has neither published false information nor hacked or stolen any information, which are among the several accusations leveled against him by the US establishment.

Melzer has called for Assange’s release from Belmarsh previously as well, after his report ascertained that Assange is displaying symptoms of “psychological torture”. Melzer’s report was submitted as a key expert testimony in the recently concluded trial in Assange’s case.

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This December 18 marked a decade of Assange’s confinement – in one form or another – since his first arrest in 2010. Assange currently awaits judgement in a case against him in the UK for an extradition request to the US. In the US, he faces multiple charges of espionage and cybercrimes, which together carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years.

Recently, several political leaders and public personalities, including even conservative politicians, from across the world have called for a pardon for Assange.

Published at peoplesdispatch.org