Having been in court to observe Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, Amnesty International’s expert on human rights in Europe Julia Hall said:
“This week has underscored the threat to the right to freedom of expression and access to information worldwide should Julian Assange be sent to the USA to be prosecuted under espionage charges.
“The potential chilling effect on journalists and others who seek to reveal information in the public interest from their sources is self-evident. Journalists around the world will know that they could be charged for espionage or under terrorism laws as a threat to national security simply for exposing war crimes or other human rights violations. That would leave us all ignorant of facts and information we need to hold our governments to account for such wrongdoing.
“We heard with concern how, over the last few days, Julian Assange has been subjected to strip searches and led around in handcuffs. The prison service must ensure that such measures are strictly necessary and proportionate. Amnesty International intends to follow up with the UK authorities to ensure that Mr Assange is not being mistreated while in Belmarsh prison.
“Over the past four days, Julian Assange repeatedly tried to address the court saying that he could not hear the proceedings, was not able effectively to communicate with or give his lawyers instructions, and that he could not focus or concentrate in the secure dock due to the medications he is taking.
“We are concerned that if adequate measures are not in place for the May hearings to ensure his effective participation in the proceedings, the fairness of the proceeding will be at risk.”
This week Amnesty International launched a campaign ahead of extradition hearing https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/02/usuk-drop-charges-and-halt-extradition-of-julian-assange/