Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has reiterated his call for the release of Julian Assange today, on World Press Freedom Day.
Senator Gavan informed Seanad Leader Lisa Chambers that Julian has now entered his fifth year in the UK’s Belmarsh prison as a remand prisoner.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Gavan said:
“Julian is incarcerated in Belmarsh prison, in one of the harshest prison environments anywhere in Europe.
“He shares the prison with people convicted of murder, rape and torture. Today, like every other day, Julian will spend 22 hours in a small cell.
“He will receive his meals through a slot in his prison door. He has never seen either of his children, aged 4 and 5, outside of a prison setting.
“This cruel regime of isolation is quite deliberate. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Nils Melzer visited Julian in prison and concluded that his treatment constituted psychological torture, a form of torture aimed at destroying the personality of an individual.
“The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found Julian to be arbitrarily detained.
“During his extradition hearing the judge forced Assange to observe the hearing from a glass cage, usually reserved for violent offenders, at the back of the courtroom where he could not confer with his lawyers.
“He has been subject to strip search, suffered a mini-stroke and is at risk of taking his own life.
“As Julian’s health conditions continue to deteriorate, he suffers the harsh conditions of a maximum security prison despite not being convicted of any crime, and there is no end in sight to this mistreatment.
“His fate is similar to that of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, whose interrogation and torture he revealed.
“What we are witnessing is the slow motion execution of Julian Assange.
“Any politician who values democratic principles, respects the rule of law and believes in press freedom should work to ensure that Assange is freed immediately.”