Earlier today Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) Secretary-General Christophe Deloire and Director of Operations and Campaigns Rebecca Vincent arrived to visit Julian Assange inside Belmarsh prison but were denied access at the last minute.
RSF’s representatives had been granted permission to visit Assange before the four-year anniversary of his imprisonment in Belmarsh, where he has been held since 11 April 2019.
Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General, said: “We are deeply disappointed by the arbitrary decision of the Belmarsh Prison Governor to prevent us from visiting Julian Assange, despite following all relevant prison procedures and rules. Julian Assange has the right to receive visitors in prison, and we are legitimate to visit him as a press freedom NGO. We call for an urgent reversal of this decision and to be allowed visitation access without further delay.”
Rebecca Vincent, RSF Director of Operations, said: “This is the latest in a long series of ludicrous obstacles that we have faced over the past three years in campaigning for the release of Julian Assange. At every level, British authorities have defaulted to secrecy and exclusion rather than allowing normal engagement around this case – from refusing to accept RSF petitions, to making it nearly impossible to access court, and now this. What do they have to hide? Regardless, we continue our campaign to #FreeAssange.“
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson commented on the news: “A press freedom NGO barred from visiting a political prisoner and a journalist (after visit had previously been confirmed). This is not Russia, China or North Korea but the United Kingdom. Remember this next time the UK Government tries to lecture you on lack of press freedom elsewhere.”