Julian Assange’s partner has visited him in prison for the first time in almost six months, and said he looked much thinner than last time she saw him. Stella Moris took the couple’s two young children to meet their father, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London, awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the United States government. Ms Moris and the WikiLeaks founder had to wear face masks and visors for the 20-minute meeting and were not allowed to touch each other. “We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children. Julian said it was the first time he had been given a mask because things are very different behind the doors. I could not see him very clearly because of the visors, but he looked a lot thinner."
For Assange however, justice delayed is not only justice denied. With global attention shifting from Wuhan to Washington, from Minneapolis to Lebanon, the father of two young children has spent another five months in incarceration without access to lawyers or family visitations. It follows what is approaching ten years of what the United Nations has repeatedly labeled arbitrary detention – the British government has so far failed to respond to three separate U.N. reports and correspondences on the matter. Serena Tinari, a Switzerland-based investigative journalist, condemned Britain’s handling of the case. “How can the U.K. behave in this way?” she said following Friday’s hearing. “It is unacceptable. It’s a travesty of justice. No access to lawyers for months?
The inmates are seeking class-action status in an attempt to protect other current and future inmates. Their lawsuit also seeks to have a federal judge order East Baton Rouge to improve jail conditions and inmate treatment, including providing sufficient cleaning supplies and requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment. At least 70 inmates have tested positive and 48 of them have recovered, according to the sheriff's office. Several civil rights attorneys and organizations teamed up on the lawsuit, including the Advancement Project and the Center for Constitutional Rights. David Utter, an attorney on the case who also represents multiple families of people who have died in Parish Prison before coronavirus said, "The notion that we would expose anyone to the jail's conditions and health care system during this pandemic makes no sense."
On the twelve-month anniversary of the release of the US superseding indictment, we call on the Australian government to make diplomatic representations to the US and UK and have Julian Assange released to his family. The US extradition hearing is set to commence on September 7, 2020 due to the Covid epidemic, unreasonably extending Assange’s time in detention to 18 months. Assange is not serving time as a convicted prisoner. Julian’s father, John Shipton, stated “Julian misses Stella and their kids. He just wants to come home and be with his family. These governments aren’t just punishing Julian for exposing their crimes against humanity, they are pushing us as a family. We are all suffering.” Australian Assange Campaign adviser, Greg Barns SC said “Given his health conditions, it is reasonable for the family to request that the Australian government make diplomatic representations to ensure Julian is released and safe with his family."
The no-bail movement was on a roll from Vermont and New Jersey to Alaska and Georgia – and then the lock ‘em up mob struck back. The national drive to reduce jail and prison populations are getting an unexpected nudge from the coronavirus pandemic, as many cities and counties across the country try to reduce exposure to the virus in crammed, unsanitary jails. One of their first targets: bail. To bail-reform advocates across America, this change is a no-brainer: Why incarcerate anyone, pandemic or no, just because they can’t post a cash bond? Their movement looked like a national wave just a couple of years ago, as states from Vermont and New Jersey to Alaska and Georgia rolled out new bail policies to reduce the number of people in jail. These ideas ranged from minor tweaks for only the lowest-level crimes to blanket eliminations of cash bail.