During WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition hearing this week in London, a former warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York testified on behalf of the defense that it's almost certain that should the US gain custody of Assange, he'll be transferred to the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Describing that during his pre-trial detention in the US he would be put in isolation under 'Special Administrative Measures' (SAMS) as it is a national security case, the prison official Maureen Baird underscored that the “only place” he could go is the notorious Supermax facility, which is also known as ADX.
The testimony took up the continuing defense theme of Assange's deteriorating health inside the high secure and coronavirus prone Belmarsh Prison.
When asked under what scenario Assange might end up in a less extreme prison and isolation environment, Baird described Assange would have to be “almost dying”.
“From my experience of close to three decades of working in federal prisons, I would agree that long-term isolation can have serious negative effects on an inmate’s mental health,” Baird said.
The Supermax, ultra high secure prison has been dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”
Currently the ADX facility holds some of America's most notorious criminals, traitors, and terrorists. For example, one of the 9/11 terror masterminds - Zacarias Moussaoui is being held, and other famous terrorists like the "Shoe Bomber," along with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Also serving out a life sentence there is former FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States, Robert Hanssen, whose life was chronicled in the Hollywood film Breach.
By all accounts ADX is set up for extreme, 24/7 isolation of inmates.
Last week a psychiatrist also testified to Assange's depressed and suicidal state, given the extreme pressures and conditions, likely to be amplified if the US succeeds in extraditing him.
The psychiatrist, Professor Michael Kopelman, had warned that, “The risk of suicide arises out of clinical factors…but it is the imminence of extradition and or an actual extradition that would trigger the attempt, in my opinion.”
Outdoor recreation cages at ADX:
If Assange is transferred and faces a US court, he's up against at least 175 years in prison for exposing US war crimes, but which Washington sees as espionage and leaking of state secrets.