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Assange suffering ‘psychological torture’: UN expert

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017. (AFP/File / Justin TALLIS)

Julian Assange has been subjected to drawn-out “psychological torture”, a UN rights expert said Friday, accusing the United States, Britain, Ecuador and Sweden of “collective persecution” of the WikiLeaks founder.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Nils Melzer, also warned that if London agrees to an extradition request from Washington, Assange risked the death penalty.

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Melzer visited the Australian whistleblower in a London prison on May 9, nearly a month after his arrest at Ecuador’s embassy where he had been holed up for seven years.

“It was obvious that Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,” Melzer said in a statement.

“Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma,” he said.

Melzer, who was accompanied on the visit by two medical experts specialised in examining potential torture victims, said there was “overwhelming” evidence that Assange had been “deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“The cumulative effects,” he said, “can only be described as psychological torture.”

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Assange, 47, sought refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces accusations of sexual assault.

He is currently serving a separate 50-week sentence at London’s Belmarsh prison for skipping bail.

Assange now also has an extradition request against him from the US, which has charged him with violating the US Espionage Act by publishing a huge cache of military and diplomatic files in 2010, rejecting his claim that he is a journalist.

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– ‘Death penalty’? –

Melzer warned that extraditing Assange to the US would expose him “to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

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“I am particularly alarmed at the recent announcement by the US Department of Justice of 17 new charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act, which currently carry up to 175 years in prison,” he said.

“This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future,” he warned.

Melzer voiced outrage at the “sustained and concerted effort by several states” over the past nine years to secure Assange’s extradition to the US.

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Since 2010, “there has been a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden and, more recently, Ecuador,” he said.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” he said.

“The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”


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2020 Election

WATCH: Author says Trump is betraying the position and his oath of office

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During a segment of MSNBC's Deadline White House with Nicolle Wallace Wednesday, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and author David Rothkopf called President Donald J. Trump a "traitor."

"Well, the thesis is that, you know, Donald Trump is a lot of things. He's a liar. He's a racist. He's a misogynist. He's corrupt. But I don't think we should lose track of the fact that from the beginning, he has been involved in betraying the country," Rothkopf said. "You know, the presidency, as you know very well, is one of those rare jobs that begins by taking an oath. You take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution -- and almost immediately, Donald Trump betrayed that oath, broke that oath, and it begins, as Nancy Pelosi says, with Russia. It always comes back to Russia. He embraced the assistance of our most notable adversary in the world. He did it in a way that involved stolen materials. He then defended them. He then rewarded them. He pursued policies that no other president would have pursued -- and he gave deference to their leader over our CIA, over our FBI."

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2020 Election

Ted Cruz scrambles to atone for saying nice things about Joe Biden

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Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was ranting and raving like a wild man today, which is most certainly not news. But the backstory is hilarious.

Cruz was inconsolable Wednesday about Twitter’s decision to apply its policies against the spread of hacked materials to New York Post reporting that was based on hacked materials. At issue was the Post’s earnest attempt to invent an October surprise with the “bombshell” that Hunter Biden and the Biden family are responsible for all of the world’s corruption and pedophilia for the past 30 years. Or something of the sort.

While the Post stories might be traceable to reliable sources in the Kremlin, normal people in the media--including some at Fox News--have not been able to confirm the authenticity of whatever might or might not exist on a personal laptop left in a repair shop. As if it all weren’t sleazy enough, the obvious instigator was Rudy Guiliani, who had apparently picked up some information while running a political errand to Ukraine.

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Ex-Trump staffer says conservative media ‘brainwashed’ her into hating Democrats

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On CNN Wednesday, Jessica Denson, the former coordinator of the Trump 2016 campaign's Hispanic outreach who starred in a recent ad for Joe Biden, opened up about how she was taken in by the Trump campaign — and why he must be defeated.

"My motive to go and help that campaign and be of service to the American people was sabotaged, and I've seen my experience repeated in the experience of one public servant after another over the past four years," said Denson, who spearheaded a lawsuit to free former Trump campaign officials from nondisclosure agreements. "I have seen that this campaign continues to go out brandishing a Bible and an American flag and claiming that they have anything to do with freedom, but I've lived first-hand that they have nothing to do with freedom. They have worked very much against free speech and democracy."

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