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Julian Assange “faces worse than death” in US: WikiLeaks founder can serve life in isolation



Julian Assange “faces a fate worse than death” throughout his life in solitary confinement at Supermax Prison, which is currently home to America’s most brutal terrorists and drug lords, if extradited.

The 49-year-old Wikileaks founder can spend his years alone in the ADX prison in Colorado with maximum security, where he will spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage in the United States.

Assange is wanted in the United States for allegedly conspiring with military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to uncover military secrets between January and May 2010.

Jail Sickler, a prison expert, said the US government had “increased the possibility of sending Mr Assange to the ADX”

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Julian Assange (pictured January 13), 49, could spend years alone in the maximum security prison ADX Colerado, where he will spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage crimes in the United States

Julian Assange (pictured January 13), 49, could spend years alone in the maximum security prison ADX Colerado, where he will spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage crimes in the United States

He said the only time Assange would spend outside his cell – if sent to prison – would be an hour in a separate cell for “rest time”.

In a statement read out to the court, he said: “I understand that the United States Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting this case with the Department of Justice, has said that Mr Assange will be sentenced to 175 years in prison.

“I think, based on my understanding of the case, that this is an unlikely proposal.”

He said Supermax was the only prison to be criticized as inhumane by its own staff, adding: “Robert Hood, the warden says, ‘this is not made for humanity. I think being there day in and day out is worse than death. “

Jail Sickler, a prison expert, said the US government had

Jail Sickler, a prison expert, said the US government had “increased the possibility of sending Mr Assange to the ADX”. Pictured is the exterior of the US Prison Administration, also known as ADX or Supermax

Mr. Hood has served in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in more than nine institutions for a period of 20 years. He serves as a supervisor or assistant supervisor in four of them.

Mr Sickler told the ADX that once a month, Assange’s 15-minute call to his family and legal counsel would be monitored by the FBI.

The founder of WikiLeaks can be put in a prison mode called Special Administrative Measures (CAM).

Stella Morris (left), partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson in front of old Bailey in London, as the hearing in Assange's battle against extradition to the United States continues today

Stella Morris (left), Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s partner and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson in front of old Bailey in London as the hearing in Assange’s fight against extradition to the United States continues today

This means that he may be deprived of food, telephone calls, visits or interactions with other prisoners.

Mr Sickler, who advises federal prison defenders, said: “Based on decades of experience, more than a dozen of my clients have committed suicide, this can be done.

“I think he will only go there if he is a SAMS prisoner. There is an external chance that he will go there for another reason.

“SAMS will seal his fate.” If sentenced to life imprisonment, he must begin in the Joint State Penalty.

“He is a man whom our government claims to have knowledge of certain highly qualified information.”

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei (pictured) staged a silent protest against Assange's extradition.

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei (pictured) staged a silent protest against Assange’s extradition.

He said the Colorado ADX was “America’s toughest prison.”

It is currently home to Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and the head of the first World Trade Center bomber, Ramsey Youssef.

(Officially known as the US Maximum Security Prison (“ADX”); it is best known for its short name “Supermax”, added Mr Sickler.

“This establishment is the scariest of the prisoners and the most violent offenders in the country are sent there.

“Here, too, the government, according to its own declaration, sees Mr Assange as potential prison accommodation.

“A sentence that is grossly beyond his natural life is a real possibility.”

Julian Assange's father John Shipton with Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei after a silent protest in front of old Bailey in London

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton with Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei after a silent protest in front of old Bailey in London

He said the lonely nature of the ADX made it difficult for prisoners to tolerate it. “If Mr Assange is sent to the ADX, he will almost certainly spend all his time in the ADX alone,” he added.

“This is the lonely structure that distinguishes most of ADX from the penitentiary in the same property.

“Although prison conditions are harsh, nothing compares to the almost constant solitary life of a prisoner in the ADX.

“Most ADX prisoners are held in their cells for 22 or 23 hours a day, with limited rest time in individual cells only.

“The cells in the Florence ADX housing units are arranged in a ‘linear design’ on one side of the corridor (called ‘block range’), which prevents prisoners from seeing each other.

Wayway leaves after hearing Assange's case in London in the Old Bailey court in London

Wayway leaves after hearing Assange’s case in London in the Old Bailey court in London

Each cage is about seven by twelve feet in size, has a poured concrete bed, desk, stool, and a combination of a stainless steel sink and toilet – as well as an automatic shut-off shower.

The beds have handles so that prisoners can be tied with four-point restraints when needed.

“Each cell has a narrow window, approximately 42 inches high and four inches wide, at an angle to allow prisoners to see only the sky,” Mr Sickler added.

“All cells have sturdy outer doors with a closing slot and an inner cell door.”

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei staged a silent protest against Assange’s extradition.

Ms Morris (left) and Ms Robinson, a human rights lawyer.  Outside Old Bailey in London, where his trial is taking place, Weiwei said Assange was

Ms. Morris (left) and human rights lawyer Ms. Robinson. Outside Old Bailey in London, where his trial is taking place, Weiwei said Assange was “the core value of why we are free”.

Assange’s case attracted the support of high-ranking figures, including fashion designer Dam Vivienne Westwood, actress Pamela Anderson and rapper MIA, who spoke in various forms for the Free Assange campaign.

Outside of Old Bailey in London, where the ongoing trial is taking place, Wayway said Assange was “the core value of why we are free.”

Weiwei, who knows Assange personally and has visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy and the HMP Belmarsh prison in London, said: “It’s getting harder for him.

“He is ready to fight, but it is not fair to him. Release him, let him be a free man, “he added. “It really is the core value of why we are free – because we have freedom of the press.

“We have to have it to protect that value, or who knows what will happen.”

Asked why he chose to protest in silence, Weiwei said: “I think all the words we want to say are already there. To add anything, it just repeats.

“We need a lot of protests and it can take any form. I’m an artist, if I can’t use my art, it’s very limited, then I prefer to just keep quiet.

Assange’s father, John Shipton, who is also protesting out of court, said Mr Weiwei’s support for his son gave his cause “international meaning”.

“Ii Weiwei is an artist with a gigantic international reputation, he stands next to Julian to give the battle international significance,” he said.

“He really is an amazing person, I’ve known him for several years, we met together in Belmarsh and he has a wonderfully stable nerve, you’d like him to be by your side in any situation.”

The hearing continues.


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