An open letter from over 60 doctors shines a light on the health of Julian Assange, who is currently in Britain's maximum security Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh, Newsweek reported. Assange's imprisonment stems from his use of WikiLeaks to publish classified military and diplomatic files provided by Chelsea Manning; he is set to remain in Belmarsh until he faces an extradition hearing in February.
According to the letter, the WikiLeaks founder — who it was previously suggested has been "exposed to psychological torture" — could meet his end in prison.
"We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange," the letter stated.
"From a medical point of view, on the evidence currently available, we have serious concerns about Mr. Assange's fitness to stand trial in February 2020," the letter stated, adding that it was doctors' opinion that Assange needed "urgent expert medical assessment" of both his mental and physical health.
The letter suggests that any treatment should be conducted at a university teaching hospital. The letter then touched on the dangers of failing to heed doctors' warning.
"Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr. Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose."The doctors who signed the letter are from the United States, Australia, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sri Lanka.
The Guardian reported that the assessment of Assange's health is based on "harrowing eyewitness accounts" of his court appearance in October, as well as a November report by Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, who suggested that 48-year-old exhibited signs of psychological torture.During his court appearance, Assange reportedly appeared frail and confused. He also seemed to have difficulty recalling his birthday and complained about the conditions at Belmarsh. Craig Murray, a former diplomat and British ambassador, attended the hearing and said that what he witnessed left him "deeply shaken." Murray noted that his shock came from Assange's weight loss and the appearance of accelerated aging.
Assange previously faced a rape allegation, although prosecutors recently announced they were no longer pursuing investigations into the matter. According to a statement by Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson, evidence supporting the accusation wasn't "strong enough" to lay the foundation for an indictment.