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A BU medical professor once did an exam of Julian Assange at the embassy. Here’s what she found

Julian Assange gestured as he arrived at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody Thursday.
Julian Assange gestured as he arrived at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody Thursday.(Victoria Jones/PA via Associated Press)

An associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine once did a three-day medical examination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he stayed at the Ecuadoran embassy in London and reported that his confinement was a “clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

Assange, who was arrested Thursday in London, had been at the embassy since 2012, under political asylum from Ecuador that has since been taken away.

BU professor Sondra Crosby did a 20-hour examination of Assange, split up over three days, more than a year ago, alongside two colleagues, Brock Chisholm and Sean Love. The trio wrote about their experience visiting him in a column in The Guardian in January 2018.

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“While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him, and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare,” the doctors wrote.

In addition to her role at BU’s medical school, Crosby, who specializes in internal medicine and has done research in the evaluation of patients experiencing trauma, is also a faculty member at BU’s School of Public Health.

The doctors wrote that they were “conspicuously photographed entering the embassy,” according to the Guardian story. They packed a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff to bring inside.

“Although it is possible for clinicians to visit him in the embassy, most doctors are reluctant to do so. Even for those who will see him, their capacity to provide care is limited,” the doctors wrote. There were “none of the diagnostic tests, treatments and procedures that we have concluded he needs urgently.”

The doctors who evaluated Assange were particularly concerned that he was not receiving a level of care required for his wellbeing.

In writing their story, they called on the British Medical Association and their British medical colleagues to “demand safe access to medical care for Mr Assange and to oppose openly the ongoing violations of his human right to healthcare.”

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“It is unconscionable that Mr Assange is in the position of having to decide between avoiding arrest and potentially suffering the health consequences, including death, if a life-threatening crisis such as a heart attack were to occur,” the doctors wrote.

Crosby did not respond to a request for an interview Thursday, and a spokeswoman for the BU School of Medicine said she was not available.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.