Posted by Richard Willet Posted on 16 April 2020

Julian Assange: One Year In Belmarsh

It should not be a matter of distinction, but Julian Assange is a figure who is becoming the apotheosis of political imprisonment. This seems laughable to those convinced he is an agent without scruple, a compromiser of the Fourth Estate, a figure best packed off to a prison system that will, in all assuredness, kill him.

That’s if he even gets there. Having spent a year at Her Majesty’s Belmarsh prison, the WikiLeaks publisher faces the permanent danger of contracting COVID-19 as he goes through the bone-weariness of legal proceedings.

Even during the extradition hearings, he has been treated with a snooty callousness by District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser, which does not bode well for a favourable finding against the US submission. As he endures them, he suffers in a facility that is succumbing to the misrule caused by the coronavirus.

On April 9, Assange’s friend Vaughan Smith gave a description of conditions that gave little cause for Easter cheer.

“Julian is now confined alone in a cell for 23.5 hours every day. He gets half an hour of exercise and that is in a yard crowded with other prisoners.”

“With over 150 Belmarsh prison staff off work self-isolating, the prison is barely functioning.”

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