WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not guaranteed a fair trial in the United States, where he is likely to face torture and ultimately receive a death penalty, a UN torture expert has warned.
Nils Melzer, a UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, warned that the charge sheet against Assange could be expanded if London sends him back to the US and that the death penalty was “obviously a very serious concern.”
British police arrested Assange on Thursday, after entering Ecuador’s embassy in London on an invitation from the Ecuadorian ambassador.
Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa, after he took refuge in the country’s embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.
The 47-year-old Australian computer programmer later stayed in the embassy out of concern that he would be extradited to the US to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents that were leaked by American whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
He is accused in the US of what prosecutors refer to as conspiring with Manning to commit “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”
The Justice Department said Thursday that Assange was arrested under an extradition treaty between the United States and Britain.
According to the indictment, Assange is accused of helping Manning in March 2010 to crack a password on Pentagon computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a US government network for classified documents and communications.
be exposed to [the] detention practices of the US, which in part are very problematic.”
“The US, in the last decade, unfortunately has not proven to be a safe state with regard to the provision of torture in cases that involve national security,” said the torture expert.