Julian Assange’s detention persists: Switzerland has to offer him asylum

05/01/2021

The CETIM welcomes the decision of the British judge Vanessa Baraitser declaring that the health condition of Julian Assange, currently imprisoned in London, excludes the possibility of transferring him to the United States. This is an example of respect of the right to health, a subject that, for years, the CETIM has been advocating for.

Already, five years ago, the CETIM and the IADL appealed to the Human Rights Council to press the United Kingdom to respect the authority of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and thus accede to the Working Group’s request that the British authorities ensure Julian Assange’s physical and mental integrity, as well as his right to freedom of movement.

At the same time, the CETIM deplores the same British court’s subsequent decision rejecting Julian Assange’s release. The CETIM further deplores, embedded in the extradition refusal, the rejection of arguments pertaining to the right to information and to freedom of expression, but also the internationally recognized prohibition of politically motivated extradition. In this regard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has declared that he is “gravely concerned that the judgement confirms the entire, very dangerous rationale underlying the US indictment, which effectively amounts to criminalizing national security journalism”.

As the Special Rapporteur confirmed in a published statement, “the evidence is overwhelming and clear. 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.” The Special Rapporteur has called upon the British authorities to immediately release Julian Assange from prison.

The CETIM repeats its call for immediate, unconditional release of the Wikileaks founder, attacked for his investigative journalism activity focused on informing the population of government crimes.

It is urgent that Switzerland respond to the Geneva authorities’ request to immediately grant Julian Assange a humanitarian visa. The conditions set by the Federal Counsel, that “granting a humanitarian visa supposes that a cantonal authority have first declared itself able and willing to grant a residency visa for this reason”, are thus already fulfilled for giving him refuge in Geneva.

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