Wikileaks founder Julian Assange received visits from his father John Shipton, as well as Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei in Belmarsh Prison in London, Tuesday.
Weiwei reported his concern over Assange’s health. The 47-year-old was transferred to Belmarsh’s medical wing after dramatic weight loss last month and was too ill to appear in court via video link for a hearing on May 20 for the US’ request for his extradition.
“His condition is shaking, he’s much skinnier than before. I guess he lost about 20 pounds [9 kilos] at least, and he’s under psychological stress, pressure,” the activist said, adding that he was “deeply worried” about his psychological state.
According to Shipton, the WikiLeaks founder has struggled to prepare his defence ahead of his extradition hearing, as he is afforded only two social visits a month and has no access to a library or computers.
“It is extremely difficult to prepare a case in those circumstances,” he said.
Shipton also stated that Assange’s imprisonment and potential extradition to the United States was a sign of escalating attacks on press freedom around the world, appealing to the Australian government to act in his defence.
“Julian presently is an icon for what will happen, and what is happening to journalists all over the western world at the moment,” he told reporters, adding: “This is an example for all of you guys. If Julian goes down, the rest of you do.”
Assange has been serving a 50-week sentence for breaching bail in 2012. He is facing an extradition request from the US on charges of violating the US Espionage Act by publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.