Assange Extradition Hearing 2020: Day Eleven

Pre-Hearing

I noticed that journalist Juan Passarelli created his own daily reminder for his followers so I’m going to start adding it to mine because it’s an important message about the court’s determination to keep this hearing under wraps and sometimes they’re pretty funny: “Day 11 at #AssangeCase hearing. 40 human rights organizations, freedom of speech & political observers are not allowed to follow the proceeding by ruling of Vanessa Baraitser. We are greeted this morning by our virtual gatekeeper a jolly lady in her living room.”

And remember, every day Belmarsh prison puts Assange through a five-hour ordeal just to take him to court which includes being handcuffed, strip-searched, and a three-hour round-trip transport. I’m wondering how many journalists and publishers out there that refuse to speak out on his behalf against this extradition request would feel if the U.S. arrested them tomorrow and put them through this punishment for simply practicing journalism. Especially those who used WikiLeaks documents in the past to bolster their work, image, or publications.

Witness #18: Dr. Michael Kopelman

Dr. Kopelman is a distinguished forensic psychiatrist and emeritus professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. He testified during the 2017 Lauri Love case stating, “Trauma of the extradition and of Mr Love’s separation from his family… would produce in Mr Love a very high risk of persisting permanent psychological damage,” and interestingly enough (or not) he told the court today that he doesn’t like psych books or the DSM and prefers to “make his own observations” about patients.

In one of the few entertaining moments during a bleak day in court, after the U.K. prosecution for the United States tried to undermine Kopelman’s credentials he reminded James Lewis QC that he had recently acquired Kopelman’s services in another case. Oops. Kopelman evaluated Assange between May-December 2019.

Mental Health History

So, some dismaying news not just out of the courtroom today but in the defense’s skeleton argument (below under “Documents”), as well. Multiple family members and friends of Assange have committed suicide and there’s an “extensive family history of depression.” Assange was reportedly treated for depression before he founded WikiLeaks and in his report, Kopelman said that he thought of suicide “hundreds of times a day” while he was isolated in the medical wing at Belmarsh in 2019. He has since been moved out of the wing.

Aaron Swartz

And in case you weren’t aware, if we’re just talking about hackers/software developers alone, there have been multiple who killed themselves over the years who were either associates of Assange or probably someone he was at least familiar with such as Karl Koch, Boris Floricic aka “Tron,” Aaron Swartz, and James Dolan (note: although all of their deaths were ruled suicides in some cases that’s been disputed).

Condition

Kopelman started evaluating Assange about a month after he was arrested in 2019, and found him to be suffering from:

  • “a loss of sleep, loss of weight, a sense of pre-occupation and helplessness as a result of threats to his life”
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Auditory/somatic hallucinations (reduced by medication)
  • “obsessive ruminations on ways of killing himself”

He found Assange to be at substantially high risk of suicide adding that he’s been diagnosed with Aspergers which only increases that risk. Assange has reportedly made preparations in case of his death including preparing a will, writing letters to family members, and receiving Catholic absolution (and no, you don’t have to be Catholic to receive it).

Main Risk Factors For Assange According to Kopelman

  • Genetic disposition
  • His own history of self-harm/suicidal ideation
  • Asperger’s
  • Solitary confinement
  • Kopelman confident that Assange will find a way to commit suicide if he’s extradited

U.S. Government Says Assange is Malingering

U.K. prosecutor for the U.S., James Lewis QC spent an inordinate amount of time trying to discredit Kopelman today going so far at one point to call him “more of an advocate than a psychiatrist.” Right. That’s why Kopelman is the emeritus professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London and Lewis gets paid to stooge for the empire.

When it came to Assange’s mental health, Lewis basically said that he was malingering or faking his conditions. He insinuated that “other doctors have disagreed about Assange’s hallucinations” but didn’t seem to give any examples in court. He also implied that Assange’s concerns about being surveilled in the Ecuadorian embassy in London were delusions despite the fact Lewis knows full well that the CIA illegally spied on him 24 hours a day.


The U.S. Illegally Spied on Assange and His Attorneys

The UK court refuses to dismiss the US extradition request for Assange despite the fact they illegally spied on him, breached confidential meetings between Assange and his attorneys, and plotted to kidnap or kill him. Read


As evidence that Assange is malingering, Lewis pointed out that he can follow court proceedings i.e. he occasionally speaks out during the hearing, and “mental health issues” didn’t stop him from publishing government material, managing WikiLeaks, public speaking, or “running a chat show.” The last one might be a reference to the RT show that Assange hosted which was so long ago Kopelman was obviously not evaluating him at the time—nor was he during any other events or activities Lewis mentioned. The doctor did say that depression became an issue for Assange sometime in 2016.

Kopelman also clarified that although Assange has not shut down completely, he has “great difficulties” functioning. As for the issue of Assange faking his illnesses, when confronted with the two psychiatric tests Assange took to see if he was lying (he passed both), Lewis actually tried to pass off to the court that they weren’t tests for malingering. Again, a highly educated and distinguished forensic psychiatrist at King’s College London vs. a U.S. bootlicker. After that he yammered on about how Nils Melzer’s reports are “nonsense” although Kopelman agreed that parts of them were political were nature.

Kromberg, U.S. Prisons, and Solitary Confinement

The infamous Gordon Kromberg and his report came up once again today (link to his report is below under “Documents”), this time because Lewis was upset that Kopelman didn’t include Kromberg’s comments about U.S. prisons in his report. Kopelman, however, said he never got them in time to add them. So here’s the thing, every day U.K. prosecutors send hundreds of documents to defense witnesses—sometimes only mere hours before they’re set to testify—and here’s James Lewis QC realizing that they kinda screwed themselves doing that to Kopelman.

When it comes to U.S. prisons it was mentioned today that Chelsea Manning tried to commit suicide in the same detention center where Assange would be initially held if extradited. Then there’s the whole Jeffrey Epstein “suicide.” Finally, even the former warden of ADX Florence where Assange would end up if he was convicted in the U.S. stated previously that the prison “is worse than the death penalty” and “not designed for humanity.”

Here’s part of the defense’s skeleton argument about the dangers of extradition and U.S. prisons:

  • Assange is high-risk for suicide
  • That risk stems from “diagnosed mental conditions of depression and Asperger’s Syndrome”
  • The U.S. prison system would not properly address or prevent this risk
  • Authorities within the U.S. prison system are not able to “cope properly with the person’s mental condition and the risk of suicide”
  • Indefinite detention in solitary confinement and SAMS will “exacerbate the deterioration of his [Assange’s] mental state and increase the risk of suicide”

Cassandra Fairbanks

And speaking of prisons, it’s become increasingly disturbing how easily Assange supporters will eat out any trough as long as it has some resemblance of a Free Assange stamp on it. Take for instance Cassandra Fairbanks’ story about Richard Grenell and Arthur Schwartz which allegedly proves that Assange’s arrest was a direct order from Trump. I covered this extensively yesterday and maybe supporters should take a second look if they still find her story entirely convincing.

But besides that and the fun fact that Fairbanks fully supports fascism as an avid Trump supporter —yes, the same guy she just testified to directly ordering Assange’s arrest—she is directly responsible for some of Assange’s suffering inside Belmarsh prison.

At the end of May 2019, two things happened: Assange was moved to the medical ward and Nils Melzer’s report on his deteriorating condition was released. Less than a week later, Fairbanks somehow got in contact with a prisoner at Belmarsh who leaked her photos of Assange that had been covertly taken. This prisoner then sent her a video of Assange, again taken in secret and subsequently published by Gateway Pundit (the video appeared to have been leaked originally by Ruptly).

After the video was leaked, Belmarsh clamped down on Assange and his isolation increased. In what is called “controlled moves,” guards cleared the hallways before they moved him from one place to another and it was reported that he was always the first or the last one to arrive in the visitors’ room. This was confirmed by Assange’s brother who said that the prison implemented the new procedures after “an inmate earlier this year leaked footage of him inside the jail.” And according to Consortium News, they reported today that Kopelman “makes clear to Lewis that Assange’s health and mental condition deteriorated when he was placed in isolation.”

You can read more about this sordid tale HERE.

Twitter Sources

The Twitter users I followed today that I want to give a special thanks to for covering the hearing and that were used as my source material include (these guys and gals do the heavy lifting so we don’t have to):

A head’s up that @SMaurizi will no longer be covering the hearing (for now). Yesterday, the UK prosecution for the United States took issue with her doing so ⟶ “I am afraid today and in the coming days I won’t be able to follow and cover the Julian #Assange extradition hearing because the lawyers acting for the US government asked I won’t do it as I am a witness of fact in the Julian #Assange extradition hearing.” – Stefania Maurizi

Articles

Bridges for Media Freedom Daily Court Summary: A.M. SUMMARY and P.M. SUMMARY

Richard Medhurst’s Day 11 Full Summary (video) HERE

“UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer Becomes One of Assange’s Most Vocal Advocates.” jimmysllama via Mintpress News

Of Interest

“How Did We Get Here? The Threat of Fascism in U.S.” Davey Heller via ClassConscious.org

“No more appeals to the fascist Trump! The Assange campaign must turn to the working class!” Davey Heller via ClassConscious.org

“The Darkest Corner: Special Administrative Measures and Extreme Isolation in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.” Center For Constitutional Rights

Conditions of Prison in Alexandria, VA via The Justice Campaign (Twitter thread)

“Lockdown Life is Better in Virtual Reality” Madeleine Spence, The Times

“Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange (english subtitles)” via ardmediathek.de

Witnesses

  • Day 1 and 2: Mark Feldstein
  • Day 2: Clive Stafford-Smith
  • Day 3: Paul Rogers, Trevor Timm
  • Day 4: Eric Lewis (cancelled)
  • Day 5: Eric Lewis
  • Day 6: Eric Lewis (continued), Thomas Durkin
  • Day 7: John Goetz, Daniel Ellsberg
  • Day 8: John Sloboda, Carey Shenkman
  • Day 9:
    • Nicky Hager
    • Jennifer Robinson (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
    • Khaled El-Masri (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
    • Carey Shenkman (continuation from day before)
    • Dean Yates (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 10:
    • Christian Grotthoff
    • Andy Worthington (statement read by judge/unclear)
    • Cassandra Fairbanks (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 11: Dr. Kopelman

Attorneys

  • Edward Fitzgerald QC (Assange defense)
  • Mark Summers QC (Assange defense)
  • Jennifer Robinson (Assange defense)
  • Gareth Peirce (Assange defense)
  • Florence Iveson (Assange defense)
  • James Lewis QC (prosecutor for the U.S.)
  • Joel Smith (prosecutor for the U.S.)
  • Claire Dobbin (prosecutor for the U.S.)

Documents

Defense Opening Arguments HERE

Defense Skeleton Arguments HERE and HERE

Prosecution Skeleton Arguments (photos via @MacWBishop) HERE

Prosecution Witness Bundle Including Kromberg Statement (bundle may be subject to change with each witness) HERE

Defense Witness #1 Statement: Professor Mark Feldstein HERE and HERE

Defense Witness #2 Statement: Clive Stafford-Smith HERE

Defense Witness #3 Statement: Paul Rogers HERE

Defense Witness #4 Statement: Trevor Timm HERE

Defense Witness #5 Statement: Eric Lewis (not released)

Defense Witness #6 Statement: Thomas Durkin (not released)

Defense Witness #7 Statement: John Goetz HERE

Defense Witness #8 Statement: Daniel Ellsberg (not released)

Defense Witness #9 Statement: John Sloboda (not released)

Defense Witness #10 Statement: Carey Shenkman HERE

Defense Witness #11 Statement: Nicky Hager (not released)

Defense Witness Statement #12: Jennifer Robinson (not released)

Defense Witness #13 Statement : Khaled El-Masri HERE

Defense Witness #14 Statement: Dean Yates HERE

Defense Witness #15 Statement: Christian Grotthoff HERE

Defense Witness #16 Statement: Andy Worthington (not released)

Defense Witness #17 Statement: Cassandra Fairbanks HERE

Defense Witness #18 Statement: Dr. Kopelman (not released)

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