The Threat of Assange’s Removal on Medical Pretext

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Mike Head has written an excellent article on Julian Assange’s current situation and states that

“Assange, whose health has been severely compromised by being trapped inside the tiny embassy for six years, would have to submit to compulsory quarterly medical evaluations that could provide the pretext for a forced “medical evacuation.””

Perhaps the more that is said about this in advance, the less likely it is to happen, as the element of surprise is lost and more scrutiny applies.

When reports first emerged that Moreno intended to remove Assange from the embassy, I had mentioned on the Unity4J vigil an expectation that if it were to occur it would (at least in part) be spun as alleviating his suffering, and indeed Moreno later stated that, “five or six years in an embassy already violates his human rights.”

The document containing the new protocols imposed on Assange by Ecuador is available at the link below as an unofficial English translation by Unity4J. What follows is a brief analysis of the threat mentioned above. Note that the document states that it comes into force as soon as Assange receives it.

This document makes a point of referencing, legitimating and appending an earlier protocol for the event of Assange losing consciousness, and one which he approved. But that was drafted in good faith regarding intentions of the executive which have now reversed.

The sum of that and matters below regarding the current document keep me concerned about an emerging health pretext for removing him.

2nd paragraph contracted:

“The provisions of this Special Protocol must be strictly complied with by the asylee and, as appropriate, by the Embassy of Ecuador, and have the purpose of facilitating…medical care that…the asylee requires.”

Bear in mind for the next reference that there is no cut and dried definition of a medical emergency, and that precipitating one is not beyond the scope of contemporary espionage.

Point 30:

“In case of medical emergency or at the express request of Mr. Assange

[effectively: if we or he dares]

, the Head of the Mission will authorize his transfer, as soon as possible, to receive care in specialized medical centers outside the Embassy. For this case, Emergency Protocols A and B will be followed , the texts of which are reproduced at the end of this document, as ANNEX I, which were drafted with the knowledge and consent of Mr. Julian Assange. The contact list of Emergency Protocol B will be updated monthly in coordination with the asylee.”

Section C, as if admonishing a delinquent (itself an informal pretext for intervention) is strict and threatening, exempts medics from the security regime, and allows exception in the case of “emergency” to the rule of them being on a list supplied and updated by Assange (28).

31 frames Ecaudor as responsible to safeguard his health (conceivably including decision to hospitalise or otherwise end his residence) and accordingly warns against failure to disclose information about his health on the part of Assange OR (despite apparent contradiction with 29) his physicians. The latter may thus have a liability concern inclining them to disclose such information. The status of his health has already been used by Moreno to support the notion that he should not continue to stay in the embassy, and further data could easily be spun that way.

After raising this concern earlier in a brief text message with Suzie Dawson she relayed the following response from “someone in the know.” I take it as factual and the content on this page has been informed by it (though I did realise the emergency protocols were a prior arrangement).

“Hi @Suzie there has always been an emergency medical protocol in place in the embassy, literally since 20 June 2012. I don’t think this is new. Neither is JA paying for his own food. Neither is JA looking after his cat. These clauses I think are in there simply to give the impression of a difficult guest. Fidel Narvaez article today gives a good account of how things have really been over the years. What’s new are the total ban on expressing opinions — in contravention of international law, mind you — and the added spying/restrictions on visitors, turning over their devices etc and the restrictions on devices use by JA. Compulsory medical tests is new. Medical tests (and paying for them) was always previously at JA team’s discretion.”

While I do think some clauses are there just to propagate smears, for reasons mentioned I don’t think it is so simple with the harping on medical matters.

I had previously read a Google translate version of the Navaraez article and suggested that Unity4J translate it to English. I recommended for it the present context (though I found nothing of pivotal relevance to this post), but also as a very timely and illuminating piece regarding the Assange’s plight in general.

I am not a lawyer or journalist, and this is not offered as a comprehensive or authoritative view in any sense. I am a concerned analytical philosopher who was fortunate enough to engage via email with the fledgling project of Wikileaks in 2007. This is just a reflection on the new statements about protocol from Ecuador, and may be updated as required. I am new to Medium and have not confirmed that comments are working for this article, but they are welcome here or at

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