Julian Assange’s lawyer reportedly complained that WikiLeaks founder was stripped naked twice and handcuffed 11 times on the first day of hearing on extradition case. Attorney Edward Fitzgerald told a judge at the Woolwich Crown Court that court papers were taken away from Assange and the treatment of his client at the Belmarsh Prison “could be a contempt of this court”.
"Yesterday, Mr Assange was handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice at Belmarsh and put in five separate holding cells," said Fitzgerald on February 25.
While the attorney urged judge Vanessa Baraitser to give an “indication” to prison authorities, Baraitser said that she didn’t have the authority to direct prison officials on how to treat detainees. The judge added that she can instruct in case Assange becomes unable to participate in the proceedings. “If it comes to that, please let me know,” said Baraitser.
During an interview to BBC, the whistleblower’s father John Shipton had said that the Assange's long solitary confinement damaged his health. He said that the ceaseless anxiety that Julian's been under for now 10 years has had a profoundly deleterious effect.
Last week, the whistleblower’s spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson said that Assange’s health has shown improvement since he has been moved out of the solitary confinement. Speaking in a news conference, Hrafnsson said that acknowledged the pressure from his legal team, public, and other inmates to get him out of isolation.
Assange, who is kept in a maximum-security prison in southeast London, is fighting an extradition request from the United States on the charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into classified government documents. WikiLeaks founder is charged on 18 counts including computer intrusion, espionage for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defence information in cahoots with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
US authorities claim that publishing unredacted classified documents put informants, journalists and human rights activists at risk of torture, abuse or death. The lawyer representing the United States for Assange’s extradition argued that the whistleblower’s action endangered the lives of people from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, who helped the US.
(With AP inputs)