For Immediate Release
UK refuses Julian Assange hospital visit for MRI and diagnosis
LONDON - In a press conference today, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino read out a letter from Assange’s UK doctor who conducted a medical examination in August. The letter says that he is in constant and severe pain, which is growing worse and has been present since June 2015. The doctor stated that an MRI scan needs to be performed. This can only be carried out in a hospital.
Dr. Wood’s letter dated 14 August 2015 states: "He has been suffering with a constant pain to the right shoulder region for the past three months [since June 2015]. There is no history of acute injury to the area. [...] I examined him and all movements of his shoulder (abduction, internal rotation and external rotation) are limited due to pain. I am unable to elicit the exact cause of his symptoms without the benefit of further diagnostic tests, [including] MRI." [END QUOTE]
The cause is unknown. There was no fall or injury. The source of the medical condition can only be diagnosed with hospital equipment that cannot be brought into the embassy due to size and weight.
Ecuador wrote to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 30 September 2015 to request that Mr. Assange be permitted to go to the hospital under conditions agreed upon by UK and Ecuador ("they can guard the car with 10.000 police officers if they wish"). The safe passage would be for a few hours in order to allow Mr. Assange to be able to have medical tests undertaken and in order to diagnose the cause.
The UK FCO replied on 12 October that it would not permit the safe passage to the hospital for purposes of medical tests.
Assange's US lawyer Carey Shenkman said:
"By claiming that Mr. Assange must give up his asylum in order to receive medical treatment, the UK government is forcing him to choose between the human right to asylum and the human right to medical treatment. No one should ever have to face that choice.
Sweden and the United Kingdom have the responsibility to ensure that Assange's basic rights are respected. They should agree without further delay to permit Mr. Assange's safe passage to a hospital on humanitarian grounds." [END QUOTE]
The Foreign Minister said that even in times of war and conflict, safe passage are given for humanitarian reasons to ensure that persons are given the medical attention they need.
For three years both the UK and Swedish governments have failed to grant Mr. Assange safe passage or a guarantee of no onward extradition to the United States. For three years Mr. Assange has been denied liberty, adequate medical treatment, and access to sunlight. Three years is longer than any sentence Mr. Assange would serve in Sweden if he were actually charged and tried in Sweden; to date, he has never been charged.
Ecuadorian government's statement:
Center for Constitutional Rights on Assange situation (August 2015)