Medical doctors lambast home secretary’s failure to respond to concerns over Julian Assange

Priti Patel and Julian Assange
John McEvoy

On 22 November, over 60 doctors signed an open letter concerning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying: “we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison”. The letter, addressed to the UK home secretary Priti Patel and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, was shared widely across social media.

The doctors have now written a follow-up letter lambasting the home secretary’s failure to act on their advice. Dated 4 December, the letter calls on the lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice to intervene.

The letter

The letter, which can be read in full here, states:

When the UK, as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, repeatedly ignores not only the serious warnings of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, but also its unequivocal investigative and remedial obligations under international and human rights law, the credibility of the UK’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law is fatally undermined.

The Canary‘s exclusive interview with UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer can be read here.

The letter continues:

In our open letter, we urged the UK Government to change course immediately and transfer Mr Assange from Belmarsh Prison to a university teaching hospital for appropriate expert medical assessment and care. So far, we have received no substantive reply from the UK Government, nor has receipt of our letter been acknowledged.

In our opinion, the UK Government’s conduct in this matter is irresponsible, incompatible with medical ethics and unworthy of a democratic society bound by the rule of law. We reiterate our grave concern that Mr Assange could die of deliberate medical negligence in a British prison and demand an urgent response from the UK Government.


The doctors conclude that the UK government’s conduct is therefore:

irresponsible, incompatible with medical ethics and unworthy of a democratic society bound by the rule of law.

Assange is one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners. The UK government must end his persecution.

Featured images via Flickr – DFID / YouTube – Channel 4 News

Get involved

  • Follow Doctors for Assange on Twitter.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. “So far, we have received no substantive reply from the UK Government, nor has receipt of our letter been acknowledged.”

      To hector the government in that manner is wholly unreasonable. Don’t these do-gooder doctors grasp that all government ministers are fully engaged in weighty matters?

      The future of their wallets, deposit boxes, and off-shore accounts is at stake. If they can’t deliver Brexit according to the gospel of neo-liberalism their receptacles for cash will not be filled as the would wish. Moreover, should that puppet of Russia and renowned antisemite, Jeremy Corbyn assume the mantel of prime minister it won’t be long before current ministers’ financial activities and those of their super-rich backers are scrutinised by the envious. Envy is a Deadly Sin and people must be protected from temptation to indulge it.

      These people are our trusted leaders, indeed born for the task. We must not thwart their ambition lest we too are not wafted upwards on their coat tails to Ayn Rand’s beatific vision of utopia. One man’s welfare, particularly one who imperilled USA national security and thereby the world, must not stand in the way of general advancement.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.