WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy for five months, has a lung condition that could get worse, the South American country’s envoy to Britain said on Wednesday.
“He has a chronic lung condition that could worsen at any time,” Ambassador Ana Alban told reporters ahead of an annual gathering of Ecuador’s diplomatic corps with President Rafael Correa in Quito.
Mr Assange’s team of lawyers claimed doctors have confirmed his protracted confinement in the Ecuador’s London embassy is having a severe impact on the journalist’s physical and mental health.
Calling for the intervention of the UN’s Human Rights Council, they argued the UK is forcing Mr Assange, 46, to make an “impossible” choice.
Human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, representing the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said:
“The UK shows a deliberate disregard for his medical needs by forcing him to choose between his human right to asylum and his human right to medical treatment.
“No-one should ever have to make this choice.
“We call upon the special rapporteur to give immediate attention to Mr Assange’s case, to plan an official visit to the Ecuador Embassy and to urge the UK to give the assurances required for him to leave the embassy to obtain the medical treatment he requires.”
Alban said Ecuador was “covering his medical expenses” and arranging “regular medical checkups,” noting that Assange has been living “in a confined space” since seeking asylum 162 days ago to avoid extradition to Sweden on frivolous charges of rape and sexual assault.
She did not give further details on his health.
A spokesman for WikiLeaks in London, Kristinn Hrafnsson, declined comment on Assange’s health.
Ecuador granted Assange asylum on August 16, but Britain has refused to grant him safe passage out of the country — leaving the two governments in diplomatic deadlock and Assange stuck inside the embassy.
Assange said in an interview published September 30 that his health was “slowly deteriorating” in the embassy, adding that he had “a racking cough.”
Last month, Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he had requested a meeting with his British counterpart William Hague to discuss Assange’s health, claiming he was losing weight and suffering vision problems.
Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who is representing Assange, said earlier this month in Brazil that he was concerned about his client’s condition.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
June 21st, 2018