Psychiatrist Withheld Evidence In Assange Case

( Last week the extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resumed in a London court as lawyers for the US argued that concerns over Assange’s mental health should not prevent him from standing trial in an American court.

The hearing last week involved the US appeal of a January decision by a British court not to extradite Assange. This is the latest step in the attempt to bring Assange to the United States to face espionage charges that began when he was arrested in London in 2019.

If extradited and found guilty over the role he played in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange could face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

A British court ruled in January that Assange could not be extradited, citing his diminished mental health and suicide risk, among other factors, in the decision. But American prosecutors appealed, prolonging an international legal battle that has already played out for nearly a decade.

During the two-day hearing last week, Assange’s legal team cited new accusations which came to light last month that the CIA plotted to kidnap and kill Assange during the Trump administration. They also argued that harsh prison conditions, as well as Assange’s mental state, should be reasons to block his extradition to the United States.

US prosecutors countered that they had made assurances that Assange would not face a highly restrictive form of solitary confinement and could apply to serve his sentence in his home country of Australia. They also pledged that he would receive clinical and psychological treatment and would not be sent to a prison reserved for the worst offenders.

Prosecutors also claimed that the district judge who blocked extradition in January should have ruled out testimony from the psychiatrist who gave key evidence of Assange’s mental state. The US prosecutors accused the psychiatrist, Michael Kopelman, of withholding evidence that Assange had fathered two children with his lawyer Stella Moris while in the Ecuadorean embassy.

Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh prison where he has been held for over two and a half years. He appeared during last Wednesday’s hearing via video link.