NEW YORK, USA – Amnesty International has requested to speak with jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, over concerns that the terms of his detention are "unnecessarily harsh."
The 59-year-old, who is currently in pre-trial detention in Manhattan, reportedly spends the vast majority of his days in solitary confinement and has limited access to exercise and visitors, according to a letter from the human rights organization seen by Agence France-Presse Thursday, March 30.
"We are concerned that the conditions imposed on Mr Guzman Loera appear to be unnecessarily harsh and to breach international standards for human treatment," wrote Justin Mazzola, Amnesty's deputy director of research, in a letter sent to the Eastern District of New York US attorney's office.
Guzman's court-appointed lawyers had said in a letter sent to Judge Brian Cogan on March 13 that the isolation he is subjected to at the New York federal prison is harming his physical and mental health.
They said Guzman has trouble breathing and suffers from a sore throat and headaches, and had been experiencing auditory hallucinations – he complains of hearing music in his cell even when his radio is turned off.
But US prosecutors dismissed those allegations, saying the drug baron is healthy and even learning English.
Amnesty's Mazzola said in his letter that Guzman has extremely restricted access to fresh air or sunlight, and has not been able to see his wife since his January 19 extradition to the US.
Guzman, the powerful Sinaloa cartel's notorious leader, is accused of running one of the world's biggest drug empires.
He escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001, was re-arrested in 2014, then escaped a maximum security prison through a tunnel the following year.