Is Julian Assange Okay or What?

Photo: Getty

Julian Assange got a doctors’ note—doctors’, plural, from over 60 doctors, yes, s-i-x-t-y. In an assessment culled from “harrowing eyewitness accounts” from his October court hearing, as well as testimony from various doctors and visitors over the years. They write that he can’t stand trial and call on the UK to get him to a university teaching hospital immediately, or else he could “die in prison.” What’s going on?

In a bit of reverse-WebMD’ing, the doctors present the following as evidence: Over the years, doctors who’d visited the Ecuadorian Embassy reported that Assange had been suffering from major depression and needed to visit a hospital for an MRI for inflammation in his shoulder. Many have described his look, as police dragged him out of the embassy in April, as “frail” and “unkempt,” but others might speculate that maybe he just looks like that.

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Assange’s health seems to have deteriorated after he was imprisoned, according to reports taken by visitors, including doctors, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, and former British Ambassador Craig Murray, saying that Assange exhibited symptoms of psychological torture. (Speaking to the Washington Post, the British government denied the implication that he’s been tortured.) In May, his lawyer said he was too sick to appear by video in court. In the October hearing, he “appeared to be in good health,” according to CNBC, although he also appeared confused and unable to keep his thoughts straight.

The doctors also cite Melzer describing Assange’s nearly seven-year stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy as an “extremely hostile and arbitrary environment,” a characterization with which the Embassy would disagree. They have acknowledged that he lived, reportedly, for some time in the squalor of his making, littered with cat excrement. As for his physical/mental fitness, we know that he was once well enough to skateboard indoors and mentally fit enough to coordinate and maintain a social media presence for the celebrity cat. But he also (reportedly) smeared shit on the walls and walked around in his underwear, signs which, in the eye of the beholder, indicate either mental unfitness or assholery.

It’s hard to tell from the October courtroom sketch of a ghostly man looking ghostly in a gloomy field of grey. Maybe he just looks like that? Can 60 doctors make that call from a sighting?

Can we just get him to a hospital and find out?

And what of Embassy Cat and his well-being?

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About the author

Whitney Kimball

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo