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Geneva:Julian Assange has been subjected to drawn-out “psychological torture”, a UN rights expert said Friday, accusing the United States, Britain, Ecuador and Sweden of “collective persecution” of the WikiLeaks founder.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Nils Melzer, also warned that if London agrees to an extradition request from Washington, Assange risked the death penalty.

Melzer visited the Australian whistleblower in a London prison on May 9, nearly a month after his arrest at Ecuador’s embassy where he had been holed up for seven years.

“It was obvious that Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,” Melzer said in a statement.

“Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma,” he said.

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