LONDON, England (PNN) - December 31, 2019 - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, according to British journalist Vaughan Smith, noting he had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.
Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.
“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” said Smith, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.
“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks; and he sounded awful. It was very upsetting to hear him.”
Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting, “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.
Smith isn't the first to raise this issue, but Fascist United Kingdom authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.
“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public."
Belmarsh is a Category A prison - the highest level in the FUK penal system - intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he was a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits bogus proceedings for extradition to the Fascist Police States of Amerika.
The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting State and corporate secrecy.
“What is clear is that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding Amerikan power to account in this way,” he said.
[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age. The debate got quashed as if it never really happened; instead he’s being victimized. That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.
Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison, and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation.
Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.
“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open. Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”