[Watch the video below.]
On Saturday, Christine Ann Hawkins, the mother of Julian Assange, accused Britain and the U.S. of slowly assassinating her son, who was granted asylum by Ecuador and is currently being held in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. She reported that Ecuador’s new president has imposed new rules on Assange’s confinement which amount to torture.
“For the past six years, the U.K. government has refused [my son’s] requests for access to basic health needs: fresh air, exercise, sunshine for Vitamin D, access to proper medical and dental care,” Hawkins said in an “emergency appeal” video Saturday. “As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated and his examining doctors warn his detention conditions are life-threatening.”
“A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in an embassy in London,” the mother charged. She made clear she also holds the United States responsible.
“The U.S. government has stated Julian’s arrest is a priority. They want to get around the U.S. journalists’ protections in their First Amendment by charging him with espionage,” Hawkins argued. “The U.S. pressure on Ecuador’s new president resulted in Julian being placed into strict and severe solitary confinement for the last seven months, deprived of any contact with his family and friends.”
She insisted that Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, warned that “when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He stated that because the political cost of expelling Julian from their embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally. A new, impossible, inhumane set of rules and protocols was implemented at the embassy to torture him to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave.”
The mother warned that if her son leaves the embassy, he will be extradited to the U.S., given a “show trial,” and face detention “in Guantanamo Bay, 45 years in a maximum-security prison, or even the death penalty.”
Hawkins charged, “My son is in danger because of a brutal political persecution by the bullies in power whose crimes and corruption he has courageously exposed when he was editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.”
“The same corrupt entities who in government tut-tut about bullying fake news, and human rights — these same bullies are bullying my son to death,” Hawkins declared. “It would appear that courageous, truthful, multi-award-winning journalism is now life-threatening. The legal channels have been subverted and therefore are unlikely to save him.”
The mother called on people across the world to unite for her son’s safety. “Because this is a trans-national political persecution by a savage superpower in collusion with its allies, saving Julian will require the outrage of the people of the world,” she declared. “I’m asking you to make a noise, a big noise, and to keep making a noise until my son is freed.”
“I call on all you journalists to stand up now because he is your colleague, and you are next,” Hawkins forebodingly declared. “I call on all you politicians who say you entered Parliament to serve the people to stand up now. I call on all citizens who value freedom, democracy, and a fair legal process, to put aside your political differences and unite and stand up now.”
Hawkins’ impassioned declaration left out a great deal of the story. Assange made his biggest splash in 2010, when WikiLeaks published secret documents leaked by Bradley Manning (now the transgender activist Chelsea Manning). Shortly after the documents were released, the U.S. began a criminal investigation. In November of that year, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange, due to accusations of sexual assault and rape.
Assange turned himself in to UK police in December 2010, and was released on bail after ten days. He breached his bail and was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012.
Last May, Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation of the rape accusation against Assange. If he left the embassy, he would be arrested for breaching bail. It remains unclear whether Britain would turn him over to the U.S.
Hawkins rightly mentioned that in February 2016, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Assange should be released and given safe passage and compensation. Britain renounced the claim as “ridiculous.”
The Trump administration has made its position on Assange clear. Last year, Mike Pompeo (then-CIA director and now secretary of State) labeled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” He denied that its publication of secret documents is protected by the First Amendment, and vowed that “to give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”
Watch Hawkins’ video below.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.