Speaking to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra, Australia on 3 December 2019, the Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson told the audience of the current state of health of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: “I basically see life fading out of his eyes.”
Here is an excerpt from a transcript of the Q&A session held immediately after Hrafnsson’s speech: it is based upon the transcript published by the “Defend WikiLeaks” website which we corrected based on the video made of the event by “Consortium News“; another copy of their video is available on YouTube. This excerpt from the Consortium News video of the Q&A session was transcribed by Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago and – to our knowledge – has not been transcribed before or reported in the US press.
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Moderator: Could you give us an idea of just what Julian’s health is like? You’ve said that you’re concerned about his health; the doctors signed… 60 doctors signed a letter last week saying that his health was at risk. What… and I think you last visited him in October, so I’m not sure that you… can you give us an idea of his health?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: Yes, I’ve, I… I have been able to visit him about four times since he was arrested in this… despicable manner in April. Of course he came [unintelligible] that place after all those years inside the Ecuadoran embassy, so, uh, being thrown into that, uh, prison, designed to intimidate and… and actually the fact is his conditions are worse – and I’ve said, I’ve had that from lawyers who have represented terrorists who are serving time in Belmarsh prison. They get actually a better environment to cope with their situation than Julian has. [Here at ~26:06 in the video the microphone is moved and the audio becomes much more difficult to hear]. He is mostly in isolation… for twenty hours a day – maybe a little more. [Unintelligible] An example of how he is treated there: he is always the… when I go to visit him, he is always either the first or the last to enter the visitation room. And that’s because they empty the hallways when he goes from his cell… leaves for the visitation room. And for what reason? One doesn’t understand. And I have seen him grow thinner; he has lost probably 10-15 kilos in these few months; he’s pale, and [distraught ?]; he has a hard time to think; he’s constantly wearing earplugs because of the noise. And I basically see life fading out of his eyes. And I’m… I am really concerned about his health. This is just a… no place for a journalist of his stature , no place for a journalist; no place for an Australian citizen who has done nothing wrong but expose the truth.
Moderator: [unintelligible] how is that received by officials [?]
KH: If you are referring to the officials in the UK I have not heard of any reaction to date other than they’re becoming masters of dismissing anything that [has been] reported by [unintelligible]. Unbelievably, they have dismissed the finding of a very important human rights tribunal, the [UN’s – FoWL] “Working Group on Arbitrary Detention” that found that when he was in the Embassy he was being arbitrarily detained. And that panel in Geneva basically ordered the United Kingdom and Sweden to resolve the situation. It was dismissed as nonsense. The politicians there said “they are misunderstanding; they don’t understand the laws here.” And when this was presented as a mitigating evidence to the court this spring in order for him to at least get the usual sentence or a fine for breaching bail, the judge said – and I was present there – “the United Nations rulings would not have any bearings in my courtroom”. And that was after she had snarled at Julian and called him “a narcissist”.
We’ll be posting a complete transcript of the speech and the Q&A session later today.