In January, at a routine hearing for the Julian Assange case, U.S. attorneys explained to the court the “special circumstances” in which Assange is to be held stateside. They intend to hold him in what is known as the darkest corner of the U.S. prison system. This means that he will have little if any human contact and only with a handful of approved individuals. This also silences his lawyers. It is a special kind of torture that results in the prisoner having no contact with the outside world whatsoever. This is worse than solitary confinement and enables the country to perform other types of torture without public scrutiny or knowledge.
In a report seen here:
the darkest corner of the U.S. federal prison system, combining the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world.
Those restrictions include gag orders on prisoners, their family members, and their attorneys, effectively shielding this extreme use of government power from public view.
SAMs deny prisoners the narrow avenues of indirect communication – through sink drains or air vents –
available to prisoners in solitary confinement. They prohibit social contact with anyone except for a few immediate family members, and heavily regulate even those contacts. And they further prohibit prisoners from connecting to the social world via current media and news, limiting prisoners’ access to information to outdated, government-approved materials. Even a prisoner’s communications with his lawyer – which are supposed to be protected by attorney-client privilege – can be subject to monitoring by the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney General has sole discretion to impose SAMs, and a prisoner lacks the most basic procedural protections to allow him to contest the SAMs designation. Indeed, prisoners may be left in the dark as to why they have been subjected to SAMs, because the Attorney General’s justification often cites little more than the prisoner’s charges or conviction. Many prisoners remain under these conditions indefinitely, for years or in some cases even decades.
And court challenges are difficult. For convicted prisoners in particular, the regulations operate to obstruct their access to counsel, impeding the act of filing a challenge. And even when prisoners can bring challenges, courts routinely rule against them,
accepting the government’s vague national security justifications.5
The imposition of SAMs extends beyond convicted prisoners. Federal prosecutors regularly request that the Attorney General place defendants under these punishing conditions while they await trial, beforethey have been convicted of any crime. In numerous cases, the Attorney General recommends lifting SAMs after the defendant pleads guilty. This practice erodes defendants’ presumption of innocence and serves as a tool to coerce them into cooperating with the government and pleading guilty. Indeed, the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) for years relied on the torture of isolation and sensory deprivation as a tool to elicit what it termed “learned helplessness” in detainees suspected of terrorism. For those defendants who do fight their charges at trial, SAMs infect the entire proceeding, limiting prisoners’ capacity to participate in their defense and hindering their attorneys’ abilities to investigate and zealously advocate.
In addition to shrinking the entirety of the prisoner’s world to the four corners of his prison cell, SAMs prevent anyone else from understanding what happens within. Prisoners under SAMs are prohibited from communicating with anyone except a few pre-approved individuals – their attorneys and immediate family members – and SAMs prohibit those individuals from repeating the prisoner’s words to anyone else. There is also an explicit prohibition on all forms of communication with the media. In effect, the regulations silence those most qualified to attest to the harms of SAMs. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) further shrouds SAMs under a veil of secrecy by concealing who is subject to these conditions and why. Indeed, the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) consistently ignore or deny Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests seeking basic information about prisoners under SAMs. The psychological and physiological harms are thus hidden from public oversight and democratic
Many seem to think that Assange would be better off if extradited, but this is not the case as the U.S. government intends to try him without his Constitutional rights. We will have no way of knowing what happens to him while awaiting trial. If Chelsea Manning’s torture while incarcerated is any example, Assange faces a terrible injustice ahead. If the threats found in the Strafor Emails seen below are to be used, Assange will be systematically tortured for publishing war crimes without ever being convicted.
In an article I shared earlier titled Why Assange Fears Extradition to the U.S., I explain what his lawyers stated in a court hearing which convicted him of bail jumping for seeking political asylum:
In a summary of the court hearing seen here by Catherine Brown, the defense shows the torture techniques used on Chelsea Manning which included one year in solitary confinement.
“She was held in military detention under conditions of sleep deprivation, kept naked, and forced to parade as such in front of military personnel.
Just to remind you, there were two cases involved the surrender of people by Sweden to Egypt – a state well known to practice torture – with the active assistance of America. They are not isolated cases, as the judgments make clear, and America’s involvement can be made clear at para 10.2 of the [Aguisa – sp.?] judgement, in which the circumstances of their expulsion are set out.
[The details of the people involved in one such case:] They were handcuffed at Stockholm airport. A private plane of the US landed. They were stripped – their clothes were cut off them. Suppositories were placed in their penises. They were dressed in nappies. They were chained to specially-designed stress harnesses for the duration of their transit.”
In the same article seen above:
Another statement found in the Wikileaks Stratfor emails states:
“Burton also says he “would pursue [c]onspiracy and [p]olitical [t]errorism charges and declassify the death of a source someone which [he] could link to Wiki” (1074383). Burton’s strategy is to: “[b]ankrupt the arsehole first,” Burton states, “ruin his life. Give him 7-12 yrs for conspiracy.”
“The owner [Julian Assange] is a peacenik. He needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo.”
Furthermore, even the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has stated that Assange is facing a show trial and stands no chance in the U.S. Especially since the CIA had been spying on him through a Spanish security agency while he was in the embassy and obtained video and audio of his meetings with his attorneys. This simply is against all laws and his human rights. If you can advocate for his extradition after seeing these facts, you do not support Julian Assange.
If the U.K. courts rule to extradite Assange, they are literally signing his death warrant. Julian Assange has no chance of surviving in the U.S. prison systems. We, as free citizens, must fight for his rights and in doing so, ensure future generations of their own rights as humans.