GENEVA (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suffered psychological torture from a defamation campaign and should not be extradited to the United States where he would face a “politicized show trial”, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday.
Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture who visited Assange in a high-security London prison on May 9 along with two medical experts, said that he found him agitated, under severe stress and unable to cope with his complex legal case.
“Our finding was that Mr. Assange shows all the symptoms of a person who has been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. The psychiatrist who accompanied my mission said that his state of health was critical,” Melzer told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.
“But my understanding is that he has now been hospitalized and that he is not able to stand trial,” he said.
Assange was too ill on Thursday to appear via video link from a British prison in a hearing on an extradition request from the United States, his lawyer Gareth Peirce told Reuters. He is in a health ward.
“Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture,” Melzer said in a statement.
The Swiss law professor declined to identify judges or senior politicians whom he accused of defaming Assange, saying “dozens if not hundreds of individuals” had expressed themselves inappropriately.
“Here we are not speaking of prosecution but of persecution. That means that judicial power, institutions and proceedings are being deliberately abused for ulterior motives,” he added.
British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, in a tweet posted within minutes of Melzer’s statement, said: “This is wrong. Assange chose to hide in the embassy and was always free to leave and face justice.
“The UN Special Rapporteur should allow British courts to make their judgments without his interference or inflammatory accusations,” he said.
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