Assange Extradition Hearing 2020: Day Twelve

September 23, 2020

Pre-Hearing

Nothing unusual to report before the hearing today. Just my daily reminder that Belmarsh prison puts Assange through a five-hour ordeal every day 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.

Defense Witness #19: Dr. Quinton Deeley

Dr. Deeley is a National Health Service psychiatrist who specializes in autism and believes that Assange meets all the criteria for Asperger’s. He also thinks that Assange suffers from “serious clinical depression” although episodes are “of a fluctuating nature” i.e. severe depression with psychotic symptoms when Deeley first assessed Assange but only moderate depression later. Deeley initially observed an ADOS (autism) test administered to Assange and then he conducted a 6-hour interview with him a few months later. More from Deeley:

  • Assange is “an intelligence person characteristic of many high functioning people on the autism spectrum”
  • Assange told Deeley extradition would be an “unbearable ordeal”
  • Assange would not be able to manage in a U.S. prison
  • Half of prison suicides are prisoners in solitary confinement
  • If the court decides to extradite Assange “he is likely to try to kill himself”

And I know this is going to seem like a cop out today (maybe it is?) but the entire morning felt like it mainly consisted of the prosecution arguing that Assange wasn’t on the autism spectrum while the defense witness disagreed. The gist of it:

Prosecution: But Assange hosted a TV show, he can speak to groups of people, those close to him say he’s empathetic, he was given custody of his child and…and…he has good eye contact! Surely he doesn’t have Asperger’s!

Witness: Well actually…

Prosecution: You’re biased!

Prosecution Witness #1: Seena Fazel

The first witness for the United States was Professor Seena Fazel, a forensic psychiatrist with a fairly impressive background who specializes in prison suicide. Earlier this week James Lewis (for the prosecution) told the court that medical experts disagreed with the Asperger’s diagnosis so apparently Lewis hauled Fazel into court with grand expectations only to be let down (was that their strategy?). Fazel testified that Assange did have characteristics of Asperger’s and he wouldn’t rule out entirely a diagnosis on the spectrum. Well played, Lewis. More from coourt:

  • Fazel seemed surprised Assange’s depression was called “severe depression with psychotic features” when he assessed him in March and June (note: defense witnesses said severity of condition fluctuates and Fazel saw Assange after he was taken out of isolation)
  • He said Assange’s suicide risk was high in June
  • He said suicide risk changes in relation to circumstances
  • He said suicide rates in prisons in Wales and England are higher than in U.S. prisons
  • Fazel conceded that isolation, solitary confinement, a long sentence, and SAMs all contribute to higher suicide risk

US Prisons

To be clear, although Fazel’s expertise focuses on mental illness and the mental health of prisoners (among other things), he is not an expert on autism or U.S. prisons. He’s also not an expert on SAMs, he’s never been to ADX Florence, he didn’t know the former ADX prison ward said it was “worse than the death penalty” and not “designed for humanity,” and wasn’t even aware that Chelsea Manning tried to commit suicide in a U.S. federal prison. But here we are.

And then when James Lewis got back up for re-direct perhaps in an effort to salvage his witness’ testimony, this happened:

Lewis added that the not fit for humanity prison also had video games and educational courses like “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and yes, apparently this is real life. Of course none of these vastly intriguing selling points would be available to Assange even if he managed to procure a poolside timeshare at ADX because he would be in solitary confinement under SAMs.

So yeah, I think I’m just going to end this summary here because I’m pretty everyone already knew how absurd this dog and pony show is. And frankly, the testimony in the last two days has been fairly depressing but I do think the defense is doing well arguing the mental health/suicide angle which could save Assange based on the Lauri Love case.

Feature photo: Inside Edition

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 12 Full Summary (video) HERE

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
  • Day 12:
    • Dr. Quinton Deeley
    • Seena Fazel
    • Dr. Catherine Humphries (statement read in court, no cross-examination)

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)

Defense Witness #19 Statement: Dr. Quinton Deeley (not released)

Prosecution Witness #1: Seena Fazel (not released)

Defense Witness #20 Statement: Dr. Catherine Humphries (not released)

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