Last Updated 6th January 2021, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Kellie Tranter, collates a chronology
Editor’s Note: Copied 17th February 2020 as a backup and to integrate with this sites text search
‘He has remained on an ACCT, the care planning process for prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide or self-harm, since his arrival at HMP Belmarsh [paragraph 345 Baraitser’s judgement].
Australian High Commission correspondence to HMP Belmarsh.
Consul & Consular officer visit Assange at HMP Belmarsh
DFAT report on visit to Assange in Belmarsh includes statement that ‘Prior to meeting with Mr Assange, consular officers met briefly with an Assistant Governor who advised Mr Assange was undergoing a mental health assessment as part of a prison induction. The assistant governor confirmed they had noimmediate concerns about his welfare, and were conducting an assessment as a matter of course.
Australian High Commission correspondence to HMP Belmarsh, regarding medical regime, specifically dental issues.
Letter from the Australian High Commission to Gareth Peirce. ‘…Mr Assange has provided our office with consent to discuss with you matters relating to his arrest and detention in HMP Belmarsh. My colleague and I met with Mr Assange last Friday to discuss his situation and the provision of consular assistance. In that meeting Mr Assange asked us to raise his dental issues with prison authorities, which we have done and are awaiting a response from the prison Governor. Mr Assange also requested we make enquiries with contacts from the Ecuadorian Embassy regarding the whereabouts of his personal belongings, which we have also done and we are awaiting a response. Once those responses have been received we will forward them to you for onforwarding to Mr Assange…can you please confirm that you have access to speak with Mr Assange? If not, we can also raise this with the HMP Belmarsh Governor.
Email from Gareth Peirce to Australian High Commission. ‘….I am grateful for the information as to the issues you have raised with the Ecuadorian Embassy and Belmarsh prison. Both are urgent. Extraordinarily we have no response from the Embassy since the afternoon of Mr Assange’s arrest in relation to the return of confidential material including privileged legal and medical papers as well as Mr Assange’s possessions generally. Neither does the Embassy’s telephone nor do emails respond and on any rare connection with an actual person we are simply told the Embassy is closed. We have sent two letters by post the second by recorded delivery. It is obviously important that these questions be responded to-where are Mr Assange’s possessions, how are they being preserved for a swift return and why are we, long on record as his lawyers in the United Kingdom not having any response? The second issue – urgent need of dental treatment for an acute crisis – an infected root canal, which can produce life threatening consequences in the (very likely) event that the infection spreads – had not been attended to when a solicitor from this office was able for the first time to achieve a videolink conference with Mr Assange, a less than satisfactory means of communication but via which this essential information could be ascertained. In addition to raising the particular concern about urgent need for him to be seen by a dentist, we would welcome your intervention in relation to the current regime under which he is being held -of isolation in a single cell for 23 hours a day. We are aware that Mr Assange is already affected by the years spent in the Embassy. Not only ought he as a matter of entitlement to have access to at least several hours of association with others each day as well as fresh air and exercise, but their absence in his particular case will compound what we know to be a fragile state of health, mental and physical. May I thank you for your inquiry. We have not yet had any in person legal visit and the earliest such a visit is offered by Belmarsh is next Friday, more than 2 weeks after Mr Assange’s arrest…..
From Baraitser’s judgement. Half of a razor blade was found in his cell, inside a cupboard and concealed under some underwear.
Australian High Commission correspondence to HMP Belmarsh, following up on letter of 18 April re medical regime.
Nils Melzer visited Assange with two medical experts to run the Istanbul Protocol.
Email from the First Secretary & Consul Australian High Commission to Gareth Peirce. The High Commissioner has today received a response from the Ambassador of Ecuador to the UK. In his response the Ambassador advises that all material documents and objects left by Mr Assange in the Embassy are currently under the authority and jurisdiction of the Judicial System of the Republic of Ecuador. As we are unable to intervene in another country’s legal matters we are unable to take this matter any further and refer the matter to you as Mr Assange’s legal representatives.
DFAT report following visit to Assange….Assange expressed concern about surviving the current process and fears that he would die if taken to the United States…..Consular officers noticed that he had appeared to have lost weight….Assange stated he had not been able to eat for a long period and was now only eating small amounts of food….
From Baraitser’s judgement. ACCT review carried out at 2.30 pm on 18.5.19. Admission to health care wing. Assange finding it hard to control his thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
From Baraitser’s judgement. ACCT review stated Assange was finding it hard to control thoughts of self-harm and suicide. In the healthcare wing, concerns about his health and his suicidality led to a plan for him to be monitored with observations and nocturnal checks.
Redacted entry in Assange consular file.
Assange consular file. DFAT entry includes Statement from Wikileaks announcing grave concerns about the health of Assange.
Cable from Canberra to London (consular file). Wikileaks has tweeted today that Assange has been moved to the health ward and this it holds ‘grave concerns’ for his health. Grateful post contact the prison and attempt to ascertain the veracity of the report and obtain an update on his health and well being.
Australian High Commission correspondence to HMP Belmarsh, following up on letters of 18 April and 7 May re medical regime and seeking updates on media reporting of transfer to medical ward.
Nils Melzer – Assange is suffering from psychological torture
DFAT Statement rejecting suggestion by Melzer that the Government is complicit in psychological torture or has shown a lack of consular support for Assange….We are confident that Assange is being treated appropriately in Belmarsh prison….
Emails to UK Ministry of Justice from the Australian High Commission, re lack of response from HMP Belmarsh.
Consent allegedly withdrawn for release of information to the Australian High Commission.
Letter from Ministry of Justice advising Mr Assange has withdrawn consent for HMP Belmarsh to provide information to Post.
2019 Consular file. Letter received from HMP BELMARSH – [redaction]. Name of Attachment 42 redacted.
Letter to Assange offering consular visit.
2019 Consular file entry. ‘Correspondence received’. Attachment ‘HMP Belmarsh Medical.pdf’
Letter to Assange offering consular visit.
Assange Consular file. Mr Shipton advised conops that he learnt overnight that Assange was admitted to the prison sick bay and that Greg Barnes (Australian lawyer) is in the process of writing a letter to the Foreign Minister requesting that DFAT use its diplomatic sources to seek an independent medical assessment (ie outside the prison).
Assange consular file. Cable No. ‘Urgent – Julian Assange Declining Health DLMF or Official Use Only’.
Assange Consular file. During the telephone conversation, Mr Shipton advised Conops that Assange’s brother, Gabriel, had recently visited Assange at HMP Belmarsh and was distressed at his ‘deteriorating condition’. Mr Shipton further advised that Gabriel had since written to the Governor General and Prime Minister to raise his concern.
Letter to Assange offering consular visit.
Letter to Assange offering consular visit.
Assange consular file. Email to Robinson regarding lack of response from Mr Assange and inability to seek updates due to privacy constraints.
Assange Consular file. Consul advised that HMP Belmarsh does not have Assange’s permission to update post on his medical condition and without visiting Assange we are unable to check on his medical treatment and well being or raise any concerns with prison authorities.
DFAT report of court proceedings made no mention of weight loss or Assange’s ability to state his name or date of birth, which was wide reported.
DFAT’s Andrew Todd advised Senate Estimates that on 14 June 2019 Assange had withdrawn consent for the release of information to the High Commission
Assange consular file. Letter from Gareth Peirce to Australian High Commission [detailed and long] but includes ‘It may in these circumstances not be surprising that Mr Assange has not authorised HMP Belmarsh to provide information regarding his “medical treatment”; he is a person whose medical treatment has been grossly and unlawfully compromised over some time, including, disturbingly, even whilst he has been in Belmarsh prison, false information on at least one occasion having been provided to the press by very obviously internal sources. He is entitled to confidentiality of such medical treatment as he may be given in prison or elsewhere….your comments to Ms Robinson that he has not responded to letters of course needs the whole of picture, for the most part freely accessible and already in the public domain, to be seen….We do not know whether any member of the Consulate attended the hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this week on 21 October 2019. If so they will have undoubtedly noted what was clear for everyone present in court to observe (and was reported by the majority of press present) that Mr Assange is in shockingly poor condition and that he, a person of high intelligence, is struggling not only to cope but to articulate what he wishes to articulate…..We hope that what we are able to say as Mr Assange’s lawyers will be accepted by you as having been based on close observation, including by independent professional clinicians. At present, every professional warning provided to the prison, including by at least one independent doctor called in by Belmarsh, has been ignored….Insofar as it is possible for the Australian government to take action on Mr Assange’s behalf, then this would be welcomed. As indicated previously, we would ourselves be pleased to meet with you at any stage if by intervention in on what is now an impending crisis, you can contribute to its amelioration and avoidance….’
Assange consular file. Post has received a letter from Gareth Peirce..in response to post’s letter of 15 October 2019…regarding our offers of consular visits to Assange at HMP Belmarsh. The letter sets out the varied reasons why Assange has not responded to post’s offers and emphasises urgency of action on Assange’s behalf. In particular, Peirce refers to alleged breaches of legal privilege, (including surveillance of Assange’s communications and meetings with lawyers and doctors), and false information provided to the media from internal sources at HMP Belmarsh. Peirce suggests these are contributing factors to Assange’s unwillingness to provide consent for prison authorities to discuss his situation with post. The letter refers to Assange’s physical and mental constitution as ‘significantly weakened’ and states he lacks the capacity to engage with more than he is at the moment able.’ Peirce goes on to ask that the Australian Government ‘takes this communication’ as confirmation of an urgent basis on which to take action on Assange’s behalf.
Assange consular file. DFAT visit to Assange in Belmarsh. Assange stated that he is concerned about false reports from DFAT in the media that he has rejected post’s offers of consular visits. He said that Marise Payne has also released false statements to the media that he is being treated like everyone else. Consul advised that the issue of consular visits was raised during Senate Estimates and the department responded that the post has made four offers of consular visits that have not been responded to, however the media reported Assange had blocked consular visits…Assange stated he was suffering from sensory deprivation and that he was dying. He said that his psychological state was so bad that his mind was shutting down. Consul asked when he had last seen a doctor. Assange replied he had seen a doctor yesterday who was concerned about his condition. Consul advised that in order to raise these issues with the prison authorities Assange would need to provide consent to HMP Belmarsh to discuss his situation with post. Assange said he had never provided consent nor declined it. He added that he did recall seeing something about DFAT asking to see his medical files which he had refused. Consul replied that we had never asked to see medical files but we had written to Belmarsh on three separate occasions and followed up with the Ministry of Justice…Assange stated the isolated prison regime made it difficult for him to think or to prepare his defence. He said he had no access to a PC, he has no pen and therefore cannot write or do any research to prepare his defence. He said he is unable to receive any documents during his legal visits. Consul confirmed that the legal documents are able to be mailed to him. Assange confirmed that this is true, however 100% of his mail is read before it is given to him, and that documents have previously been delivered after his Court appearance…..Assange thanked post for our ongoing concerns and visit and undertook to discuss consent with prison authorities.
Assange consular file. Letter from Australian High Commission to Assange. As we discussed in my most recent visit to you on 1 November 2019 of particular concern to us is the matter of your health and well being. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss these matters with you in more detail. Should you provide the appropriate consent for prison authorities to engage with us, we can raise concerns regarding your health concerns, welfare and detention within the prison system, with HMP Belmarsh. If you consider it appropriate, we can approach HMP Belmarsh and offer our assistance to seek an independent health assessment for you. This would highlight any medical conditions and provide a sound basis for further discussion with prison authorities. Any findings from the health assessment would be subject to all applicable privacy and medical privileges. If you would kindly indicate on the attached form whether you would like us to progress arrangements for a visit, we have enclosed a stamped, self-addressed envelope to assist you to return it to our office….
Assange consular file classified cable dated 28.11.19.
From Baraitser’s judgement. Staff recorded him sleeping under this bed as he did not hallucinate if he slept there.
From Baraitser’s judgement. Depression severe in December 2019
From Baraitser’s judgement. At the time of his December 2019 report, Professor Kopelman diagnosed Assange with a recurrent depressive disorder, which was severe in December 2019 and sometimes accompanied by psychotic features (hallucinations) and often with ruminative suicidal ideas….His symptoms in December 2019 included loss of sleep, loss of weight, impaired concentration and feeling of often being on the verge of tears, and a state of acute agitation in which he was pacing his cell until exhausted, punching his head or banging it against a cell wall. Assange reported suicidal ideas during this period, telling Professor Kopelman that life wasn’t worth living that he had been thinking about suicide “hundreds of times a day” and had a “constant desire” to self harm or commit suicide. He told Professor Kopelman that he had called th Samaritans virtually every night and on 2-3 occasions when they had not been available had made superficial cuts to his thigh and abdomen to distract him from his sense of isolation…..
Classified cable in consular file.
Letter to Marise Payne sent from Doctors for Assange ‘Medical Emergency – Mr Julian Assange’
From Baraitser’s judgement. Assange returned to ordinary [prison] location.
Email to Assange’s father in consular file. We were advised by the Ministry of Justice (by letter) in June this year that Assange had withdrawn consent for the prison to discuss his situation with the High Commission. Later in June HMP Prison advised Julian would not sign the consent form to release information to the High Commission. The High Commission has since written to Julian (with a reply paid envelope) on 5 occasions offering consular assistance. To date there has been no reply.
Marise Payne’s response to letter from doctors for Assange https://doctorsassange.org/australian-government-reply-to-doctors-for-assange-february-2020/
[From Baraitser’s judgement. His prison medical notes record numerous occasions on which he told the In-Reach prison psychologist, Dr Corson, and other medical staff (for example a prison nurse) that he had suicidal or self-harming thoughts, felt despairing or hopeless and had made plans to end his life. He made frequent requests for access to the prison’s Samaritans phone.]