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Assange ‘mentally visualising walking the Camino trail’ in UK jail cell

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Extradition to the United States will be akin to a “death sentence” for Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, his father has said ahead of a hearing to be held in the United Kingdom.

Extradition to the United States will be akin to a "death sentence" for Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, his father says.

John Shipton said his son had faced "ceaseless anxiety" as he fights against being sent to the US from the United Kingdom on charges over the leak of classified documents.

"The ceaseless anxiety that Julian's been under for now 10 years - it has had a profoundly deleterious effect," he told the BBC today.

"I can't speculate onto his state of mind, but I imagine that he will be really worried because being sent to the United States is a death sentence."

Assange's case is widely viewed as a litmus test for the protection of journalists' sources.

His comments come as a group of 117 doctors and psychologists called for an end to what it calls "the psychological torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange".

Assange, who is being held at high-security prison Belmarsh, is awaiting the outcome of an extradition request by the US - where he faces 18 charges including conspiring to commit computer intrusion.

Assange has reportedly been in poor mental health and is reportedly suffering an unnamed condition, which could be revealed in his extradition trial on Monday.

He is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

A full extradition hearing is due to start in the UK on February 24.

Shipton claimed the alleged charges against his son were "political" and dismissed allegations that Assange helped release the unredacted names of sensitive sources as "untrue".

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He predicted that the judge overseeing his son's case would rule in favour of extradition, but that the decision would be appealed to the High Court.

Mr Shipton said the Wikileaks founder is trying to clear his mind by thinking of a brighter future.

"A couple of years ago Julian and I worked out that when he would be released we would go and do the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James," he said.

He said that each day in his prison cell Assange has started visualising walking another stage of the famous pilgrimage trail across northern Spain.

"He meditates and he does the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James, so that's his daily routine: it's to walk one section of the Way of St James, the Camino, and meditate, and work on his case as best as he can," Mr Shipton added.

In a 1200-word letter published in the medical journal The Lancet, the Doctors For Assange group expresses concern over Assange's fitness for the upcoming legal proceedings.

The letter says that "Assange is in a dire state of health due to the effects of prolonged psychological torture in both the Ecuadorian embassy and Belmarsh Prison, where he has been arbitrarily detained according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

"Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (Nils Melzer) has warned, he will have effectively been tortured to death."

Who is Julian Assange?

Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May last year for breaching his bail conditions, after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations, which he has always denied.

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Swedish authorities later dropped the rape investigation.

He has been in custody since he was dramatically removed from the embassy building in April.

Source: 9News

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