Chris Hedges discusses ‘The Trial of Julian Assange,’ a new book by Nils Melzer, UN special rapporteur on torture, in this edition of Hedges show, On Contact.
In July 2010, WikiLeaks published ‘Cablegate,’ one of the biggest leaks in the history of the US military, including evidence of war crimes and torture. Julian Assange, the founder and spokesman of WikiLeaks, immediately found himself a target, accused of hacking, and later sexual assault. He spent the next seven years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearful that he would be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of assault and then sent to the US. In 2019, Assange was handed over to the British police. On the same day, the US demanded his extradition. He faces up to 175 years in prison for alleged espionage and computer fraud.
It was at this moment that Nils Melzer, UN special rapporteur on torture, started his methodical investigation into how the US and UK governments were working in tandem to imprison Assange for life in the United States. The more Melzer investigated the more it became apparent that the UK and the United States were grossly distorting the legal process to revoke Assange’s most basic rights, including due process along with the flagrant manipulation of evidence. The violations included the taping of Assange’s meetings with his attorneys, in violation of attorney-client privilege. Melzer gathered medical and psychological evidence to prove that Assange had suffered prolonged and orchestrated psychological torture. All these measures were instituted solely because Assange provided to the public evidence of war crimes, lies, corruption and a callous indifference by the United States to human life.
Nils Melzer is the UN special rapporteur on torture. His new book is ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: A Story of Persecution.’