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UN investigator finds Assange suffers from "psychological torture"

Julian Assange with his hand in a peace sign.
Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

A UN human rights investigator said Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suffered psychological torture and should be free from extradition to the United States.

What's happening: After years of fleeing prosecution for leaking classified information through his site, Assange is currently serving time in British custody and facing potential extradition to the U.S. for espionage. He's also facing possible extradition to Sweden, where he would face an investigation into rape allegations.

UN Investigator Nils Melzer visited Assange in prison earlier this month and said that the series of campaigns and actions against Assange "can only be described as psychological torture."

"In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity..."
— Nils Melzer in a statement

Melzer was accompanied on his trip by 2 medical experts specializing in cases of torture and ill-treatment. According to the statement, the team found that Assange is exhibiting severe stress, chronic anxiety and psychological trauma.

What's next: Melzer urged the British government not to extradite Assange to the U.S. or any country that would not pledge to safeguard Assange from American extradition. He also reminded the United Kingdom of Assange's right to legal resources, which Melzer says have been limited.

Go deeper... Timeline: Julian Assange's 9-year legal limbo reaches its climax