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Julian Assange Says He's 'Slowly Dying' in Prison During Christmas Eve Phone Call: Report

Demonstrators hold placards calling for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on October 21, 2019
Demonstrators hold placards calling for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on October 21, 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Julian Assange is slurring his speech and worried about dying in prison, according to a new report from British journalist and former Army officer Vaughan Smith. The journalist spoke with Russian state TV network RT on Tuesday and revealed that Assange called him over the phone from Britain’s Belmarsh prison on Christmas Eve.

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“He said to me, ‘I’m slowly dying here,” Smith told RT, claiming that Assange was allowed just one call for Christmas.

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly. Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful and it was very upsetting to hear him,” Smith told RT.

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“He didn’t actually say he was sedated. It seemed fairly obvious that he was and the idea that he’s been sedated has come from several people who’ve visited him who have clearly been told.”

Julian Assange’s health has been deteriorating in the British prison ever since he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London back in April after spending almost seven years seeking asylum. The WikiLeaks cofounder was sentenced to 50 weeks for skipping bail in 2012 and new reports from his lawyers indicate that Assange is struggling both physically and psychologically.

Vaughan also claims that Assange is “clearly” being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, something that hasn’t been independently corroborated and was seemingly contradicted, at least in the past, by hidden camera video that emerged from the prison back in June. Extended solitary confinement is considered torture under international law, though some countries, like the U.S., still practice it.

Smith had Assange spend Christmas with his family back in 2010, something that Smith said may have prompted the timing of the phone call from Assange.

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“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape and to talk with us because of the memories he had of that—happy memories,” Smith said.

More than 100 doctors have called for Assange to be released from prison, though it’s unlikely that he’ll be let out anytime soon.

Assange is fighting extradition to the United States, where he’s been charged by the U.S. Justice Department for conspiracy to hack a government computer, as well as 18 different charges under the Espionage Act.

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The Trump regime is working overtime to extradite him, despite the fact that many people believe WikiLeaks was instrumental in getting Trump elected in 2016. WikiLeaks, through its Twitter account, even asked Donald Trump, Jr. to lobby his father and have Assange be appointed as an ambassador. President Trump, for his part, is playing dumb, and has even claimed that he doesn’t know anything about WikiLeaks.

At the end of the day, Smith says that Assange’s treatment is meant to be an example to others who question the U.S. government.

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“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” Smith said.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

lennyvalentin
Lenny Valentin

Of course he says he feels like he’s dying; Assange is a megalomaniacal narcissist who isn’t getting even a tiny fraction of the attention his ego craves.

50 weeks is hardly a strenuous prison term one might add, which by the way, is entirely justified since he did skip bail deliberately. Some people have survived incarceration for the better part of a lifetime while being entirely innocent, so someone clearly needs to fucking punch Assange right in the face and tell him to stop being such a god damn drama queen.