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Julian Assange ‘faces fate worse than death’ in US: WikiLeaks founder could earn his life in isolation



Julian Assange ‘faces a fate worse than death’ in a life of solitary confinement in the ‘Supermax’ jail, currently home to America’s most violent terrorists and drug barons, if extradited, a court has heard.

The Wikileaks founder, 49, could live his years alone with maximum security ADX Colorado jail, where he would spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage offenses in the United States.

Assange is wanted in the United States for allegedly conspiring with Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to reveal military secrets between January and May 2010.

Prison expert Joel Sickler said the U.S. government had ̵

6;raised the possibility of sending Mr Assange to ADX’.

Julian Assange (pictured January 13), 49, could live his years alone with maximum security ADX Colerado prison, where he would spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage in the United States

Julian Assange (pictured January 13), 49, could spend his years alone with maximum security ADX Colerado prison, where he would spend 23 hours in a cell if convicted of espionage offenses in the United States

He said the only time Assange would spend outside his cell – if sent to jail – would be an hour in an individual cage for ‘recreational time’.

In a statement read out in court, he said: ‘It is my understanding that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting this case with the Department of Justice, has said Mr Assange will be subject to a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

‘I think, based on my understanding of the matter, that this is not an unlikely proposal.’

He said Supermax was the only prison criticized as inhuman by its own staff, adding: ‘Robert Hood, says the bailiff,’ this is not built for humanity. I think it’s worse than death to be there day by day ”. ‘

Prison expert Joel Sickler said the U.S. government had 'raised the possibility of sending Mr Assange to ADX'.  Image of the exterior image of the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, also known as ADX or 'Supermax'

Prison expert Joel Sickler said the U.S. government had ‘raised the possibility of sending Mr Assange to ADX’. Image of the exterior image of the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, also known as ADX or ‘Supermax’

Sir. Hood has worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in more than nine institutions over a 20-year period. He served as guardian or associate guards at four of them.

Sir. Sickler said at ADX that Assange’s 15-minute call to his family and legal adviser would be monitored by the FBI once a month.

The WikiLeaks founder could be placed in a prison regime called Special Administrative Measures (SAMS).

Stella Moris (left), the partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson outside Old Bailey in London, as the hearing in Assange's fight against extradition to the United States continued today

Stella Moris (left), the partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson outside Old Bailey in London, as the hearing in Assange’s fight against extradition to the United States continued today

This means he could be deprived of meals, phone calls, visits or interaction with other inmates.

Sir. Sickler, who advises federal prison defense attorneys, said: ‘Based on decades of experience, over a dozen of my clients have committed suicide, it can be done.

‘I think he will only go there if he is a SAMS prisoner. There is a chance from the outside that he will go there for other reasons.

‘SAMS will seal his fate. If he gets a life sentence, he should start in a United States Penitentiary.

‘He is one our government claims to have knowledge of certain highly qualified information.’

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei (pictured) has staged a silent protest against the extradition of Assange

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei (pictured) has staged a silent protest against the extradition of Assange

He said the Colorado ADX was ‘America’s most severe prison’.

It is currently home to Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing of Ramzi Yousef.

Officially known as Administrative Maximum Security United States Penitentiary (“ADX”); it is best known by its shorthand name “Supermax”, Mr Sickler added.

‘This is a facility most feared by inmates, and it’s your place where the most violent offenders in the nation are sent.

‘And this is where, according to his own statement, the government sees a potential prison location for Mr Assange.

‘A sentence that far exceeds his natural life is a real possibility.’

Julian Assange's father John Shipton with Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei following a silent protest outside Old Bailey in London

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton with Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei following a silent protest outside Old Bailey in London

He said it was the lonely nature of ADX that made it so difficult for its inmates to carry. ‘Should Mr Assange be sent to ADX, he will almost certainly spend all his time in ADX in solitude,’ he added.

‘It is the solitary structure that separates most of the ADX from the prison chair on the same property.

‘While the conditions of a prison sentence are serious, nothing compares to the near-permanent period of solitude for an inmate at ADX.

‘Most inmates on ADX are kept in their cells 22 or 23 hours a day with a limited recreational time alone in individual cages.

‘The cells in the residential units of Florence ADX are arranged in a “linear design” down one side of a hallway (called the “unit area”), preventing inmates from seeing each other.’

Weiwei resigns after watching the trial of Assange in London at the Old Bailey Courthouse in London

Weiwei resigns after watching the trial of Assange in London at the Old Bailey Courthouse in London

Each cell measures around seven by twelve feet, has a poured concrete bed, desk, stool and a stainless steel sink and toilet – as well as a shower with automatic closing.

The beds have handles so that the inmates can be fastened with four-point restraints where necessary.

‘Each cell has a single, narrow window, about 42 inches high and four inches wide, angled to allow inmates to see only the sky,’ Mr Sickler added.

‘All cells have solid exterior doors with a closed opening and an interior cell door.’

Meanwhile, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has staged a silent protest against the extradition of Assange.

Moris (left) and human rights lawyer Robinson.  Outside the Old Bailey in London, where his ongoing trial is taking place, Weiwei said Assange represents 'a core value of why we are free'.

Moris (left) and human rights lawyer Robinson. Outside the Old Bailey in London, where his ongoing trial is taking place, Weiwei said Assange represents ‘a core value of why we are free’.

Assange’s case has attracted the support of high-profile figures, including fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, actress Pamela Anderson and rapper MIA, who have spoken in various forms of the Free Assange campaign.

Outside the Old Bailey in London, where his ongoing trial is taking place, Weiwei said Assange represents ‘a core value of why we are free’.

Weiwei, who knows Assange personally and has visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy and HMP Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, said: ‘It is becoming more and more difficult for him.

‘He is ready to fight, but this is not fair to him. Free him, let him be a free man, ”he added. ‘He really represents a core value of why we are free – because we have freedom of the press.

‘We have to have it to protect that value, otherwise we know who is going to happen.’

Asked why he chose to protest silently, Weiwei said: ‘I think all the words we want to say are already there. To add something, just repeat it.

‘We need a lot of protests and it can take any form. I’m an artist. If I can not use my art, it is very limited, then I would rather be quiet. ‘

Assange’s father, John Shipton, who also protested outside the court, said Mr Weiwei’s support for his son gives his case ‘international significance’.

‘Ai Weiwei is an artist with gigantic international status, he stands next to Julian to give the fight international significance,’ he said.

‘Really, he’s a huge man, I’ve known him for a few years now, we met at Belmarsh together, and he has a wonderfully stable nerve, you want him with you in any situation.’

The hearing continues.


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