Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Placards and messages in support of Julian Assange sit outside Ecuadorian Embassy stands in South Kensington on April 5, 2019 in London.

Placards and messages in support of Julian Assange sit outside Ecuadorian Embassy stands in South Kensington on April 5, 2019 in London. (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

100+ Doctors Demand Julian Assange Receive Safe Passage to Australian Hospital 'Before It Is Too Late'

"That we, as doctors, feel ethically compelled to hold governments to account on medical grounds speaks volumes about the gravity of the medical, ethical, and human rights travesties that are taking place."

Andrea Germanos

A group of over 100 doctors on Monday urged the Australian government to end its "refusal to act" in the case of Julian Assange and insist the British government release the WikiLeaks founder from prison so he can be safely sent to an Australian hospital before "it is too late."

In an open letter addressed to Foreign Minister Marise Payne, the doctors say that "the most fundamental human rights of an Australian citizen are being denied by the British government."

The international medical experts, who hail from countries including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, called upon Payne to abide by his "undeniable legal obligation to protect your citizen against the abuse of his fundamental human rights, stemming from U.S. efforts to extradite Mr. Assange for journalism and publishing that exposed U.S. war crimes."

Assange has been in London's Belmarsh prison since April for skipping bail seven years ago when he first took refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He's facing possible extradition to the United States for alleged violations of the Espionage Act.  His time at the embassy and at Belmarsh had led to "medical neglect and fragile health," the doctors said, adding that Assange continues to suffer psychological torture at the London jail.

It's not the first time the medical group has sounded alarm on Assange's deteriorating health conditions.

In a letter sent last month to British Home Secretary Priti Patel and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott,  the group expressed "real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr. Assange could die in prison." U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer has also accused the U.K. government of "outright contempt for Mr. Assange's rights and integrity." In May Melzer said Assange exhibited "all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture."

The doctors referenced Melzer's concerns as well as their letter to the U.K. authorities, saying that document fell on deaf ears.

In addendum to the new letter, the doctors wrote that Assange is essentially stuck waiting "helplessly for whatever the U.S government holds in store for him"—a situation "akin to keeping someone bound and gagged while their assailant stands by sharpening their knives."

"The Australian government has shamefully been complicit by its refusal to act, over many years. Should Mr. Assange die in a British prison, people will want to know what you, Minister, did to prevent his death."

Ongoing detention at Belmarsh, the group said, is "medically reckless at best and deliberately harmful at worst."

"We therefore urge you to insist upon the immediate transfer of Mr. Assange from Belmarsh Prison to an Australian university teaching hospital, on urgent medical grounds, so that he can receive the assessment and treatment that he requires," the doctors wrote. They added:

That we, as doctors, feel ethically compelled to hold governments to account on medical grounds speaks volumes about the gravity of the medical, ethical, and human rights travesties that are taking place. It is an extremely serious matter for an Australian citizen's survival to be endangered by a foreign government obstructing his human right to health. It is an even more serious matter for that citizen's own government to refuse to intervene, against historical precedent and numerous converging lines of medical advice.

Assange is set to face another case management hearing this week Westminster Magistrates' Court and full extradition hearing in February.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo