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THE “alarming” High Court decision to deny bail for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was strongly condemned by Doctors for Assange today.
The group of more than 100 doctors charged that Mr Assange has been exposed to psychological torture and has a history of medical neglect, fragile health and chronic lung disease.
As a result they warn that Mr Assange is at risk of serious illness and death if he were to contract coronavirus.
On Wednesday, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser dismissed a request for bail, saying that she had “no reason not to trust” Britain’s guidelines for prisons in responding to the pandemic.
The judge said that because no prisoners at HMP Belmarsh currently had coronavirus, Mr Assange was not yet at risk.
But the high-security prison is no longer accepting visitors, and more than 100 of its staff are self-isolating.
And on the day of the hearing, 19 prisoners in 10 prisons across the country were revealed to have tested positive for coronavirus, up by six prisoners in 24 hours. As of Thursday, 27 inmates at 14 sites had the coronavirus.
In a statement, Doctors for Assange said: “This news, and the decision to deny Mr Assange bail, is alarming in light of numerous statements and reports that have called out the risk to prisoners, urgently recommending release of non-violent prisoners, as well as actions taken by other nations to alleviate the risk.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet likewise issued a statement calling on authorities to release prisoners who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, as well as low-risk inmates.
“Julian Assange is just such an unsentenced prisoner with significant health vulnerability,” Ms Bachelet said.
“He is being held on remand, with no custodial sentence or UK charge in place, let alone conviction.”
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