Assange ‘suffering profoundly’ in prison

Jennifer Robinson labelled the Australian government "complicit" in Julian Assange's imprisonment.

Jennifer Robinson labelled the Australian government "complicit" in Julian Assange's imprisonment. Photo: AAP

Julian Assange’s lawyer warns the WikiLeaks founder will die behind bars unless an urgent political fix is secured.

Held in the UK’s high-security Belmarsh prison for more than three years, the Australian journalist is battling an array of health conditions including a mini stroke, severe depression and suicidal ideations, while he recently caught COVID-19.

He’s waiting on a UK High Court appeal against his extradition to the US, where he faces espionage charges.

Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, who labelled the Australian government “complicit” in his imprisonment, said his health couldn’t survive the drawn-out legal process needed to secure his release.

“Julian does not have another decade of his life to wait for a legal fix … the solution is not a legal one, it is a political one,” she said at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“When you hear politicians or government officials in the UK or in the US or in this country talk about due process or the rule of law, this is what they are talking about – punishment by process, burying him under legal process until he dies.”

Ms Robinson blasted Australia’s lack of motivation to get him home, particularly after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – when he was opposition leader – said he didn’t see what purpose the incarceration was serving.

She said whoever did secure Mr Assange’s release would be remembered for being on the right side of history.

“For more than a decade, we have been making this ask of the Australian government, we have had nothing but silence and complicity by consecutive Australian governments on both sides of politics,” Ms Robinson said.

“We need to see action, we all want to see our prime minister stand up at the press conference taking questions about Julian’s release from prison rather than his death in custody.”

From communication with his wife, the lawyer said reports of Mr Assange’s poor health were not being overstated.

“His wife Stella who speaks so eloquently on his behalf now that he cannot, anxiously waits for the phone call that she dreads,” she said.

“It is no exaggeration to say … he is suffering profoundly in prison and she doesn’t know if he will survive it.”

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