WikiLeaks released a statement Wednesday night saying that founder Julian Assange was moved to the heath ward of Belmarsh prison in the UK over grave concerns about his medical condition.
Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail in 2012, when he sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted on sexual assault allegations. He was arrested at the embassy in mid-April.
“Mr Assange’s heath had already significantly deteriorated after seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, under conditions that were incompatible with basic human rights,” the group said in a statement.
It added: “During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight. The decision of prison authorities to move him to the health ward speaks for itself.”
WikiLeaks has grave concerns about the state of health of our publisher, Julian Assange, who has been moved to the health ward of Belmarsh prison. – See full statement: pic.twitter.com/HnZVks4kWj
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 29, 2019
The move came a day before Assange is due to appear in a London court on May 30, for a hearing on possible extradition to the United States to face hacking and espionage charges.
Assange was scheduled to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court tomorrow for a hearing about his extradition request after the US brought charges for hacking 750,000 classified documents, which carries a five-year sentence.
Assange’s defense lawyer said on Tuesday that a Swedish court had rejected a request to postpone a planned hearing to rule on the detention in absentia as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged rape.
The Swedish prosecutor heading an investigation into the rape allegation against Assange, which he denies, this month filed a request with a local court for him to be detained with a hearing scheduled for June 3.
Swedish defense lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he had visited Assange in British custody on Friday after which he had sought to have the hearing postponed.
“One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Mr Samuelson said.
“I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen.”
Sweden reopened the rape investigation in early May The Telegraph reports. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 years after Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.
If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain.
British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.