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US government 'has reneged on repeated promises' on solitary confinement, Assange trial hears

TIM DAWSON reports from the trial for the Morning Star

THE US government has reneged on repeated representations about prisoner care made to British and European courts in an extradition case. Assurances that solitary confinement in ADX Colorado would not be the ultimate destination of the subject of the extradition request were forgotten once it was granted.

Lindsay Lewis, one of Abu Hamza’s US lawyers, was giving evidence to Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London today. Hamza was extradited from the UK in 2012, after repeated representations about the quality of care he would receive if he was convicted in the US.

Despite these assurances, Hamza has scarcely left his cell for eight years and is denied even the basic treatment required to deal with his considerable disabilities. “Dental care is enormously important to him because he has to use his teeth to open cans to eat”, Lewis told the court. “When he was in a UK prison he was visited four times a day by nursing staff. He receives no daily medical help of that kind in ADX Colorado”.

The issue is key because Gordon Kromberg, the US attorney for the prosecution, has provided lengthy reassurances in respect of Julian Assange’s likely treatment if extradited. Kromberg says that Wikileaks founder would be allowed to socialise with other inmates and participate in education and leisure courses. There is sufficient healthcare for inmates as well as mental healthcare, he promises.

Lewis laughed at these suggestions and told the court that she would expect Assange to be held in 'Unit H’ at the Colorado prison, to be allowed only one 15-minute phone call each month and no exposure to other inmates.

Clair Dobbin, counsel fo the US government said that the the assurances in respect of Abu Hamza’s likely place of incarceration were always predicated on ‘a full medical assessment’. Lewis replied that this had not been undertaken.

Earlier, a 27-year veteran of US prison management, Maureen Baird, said that Assange “would have to be nearly deal to avoid being sent to ADX Colorado”.


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