Assange 'exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period' - UN expert

A human rights investigator claims WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suffered psychological torture and is in no state to be extradited to the United States.

Nils Melzer, a United Nations expert, visited Assange in a London prison last month with two medical experts. Assange was arrested in April after several years in asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

He says they found him agitated, under severe stress and unable to cope with his complex legal case. Assange is currently in a health ward at the jail.

"Our finding was that Mr Assange shows all the symptoms of a person who has been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. The psychiatrist who accompanied my mission said that his state of health was critical," said Melzer.

The UN representative says it's turning into a case of persecution, rather than prosecution.

"Mr Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture."

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt rejected Melzer's claims, saying Assange "chose" to stay in the embassy, and was "always free to leave".

Ecuador rescinded its offer of asylum in April, ending seven years of hiding for Assange.