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Sep 22, 2020 84 tweets 12 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Day 11: Julian Assange's extradition hearing thread. Today we'll hear testimony from Professor Michael Kopelman, who is being sworn in live in court right now. #AssangeCase
Dr Kopelman is Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London
To protect Assange's privacy, defense lawyer Ed Fitzgerald has requested press use caution when presenting details on his findings. Dr Kopelman has visited Assange multiple times and his testifying about Assange's mental health
Dr Kopelman is reviewing Assange's psychiatric history, monitoring his depression over time, finds there is a high risk of suicide if Assange is extradited
(Andy Greenberg wrote about some of Dr Kopelman's assessments in his hearing preview here:…)
Dr Kopelman: Assange has a genetic disposition for clinical depression, and multiple family members have committed suicide
Dr Kopelman referring to auditory & somatic hallucinations Assange has suffered. Some medications have reduced these. Talking about Assange's suicidal ideation
Dr Kopelman found Assange had traits of Asperger's syndrome, but his warmth and ability to form relationships made Kopelman question that diagnosis, so he asked another doctor to assess. That doctor did diagnose Assange with Asperger's and we'll hear from him this week
Dr Kopelman: an order for extradition alone appears likely to trigger a suicide attempt. Now talking about the high risk of suicide in isolation
Taking his own life would derive from? Would derive form his depression, PTSD, anxiety, and would be carried out due to the single-mindedness of ASD Asperger's. Dr found ASD Asperger's indicates 9 times more likely to commit suicide
Dr Kopelman: Assange has made preparations, including speaking to a Catholic priest, writing letters to family and friends, drawn up a will
Study from Dr Simon Baron-Cohen: "the lifetime experience of suicidal ideation [in those with Asperger's] was more than nine times higher than in the general population in England"…
Dr Kopelman: Assange has been found with a large quantity of paracetemol. Has found the suicidal ideation as a result of his psychiatric disorders
End of defense questioning. James Lewis will cross-examine for the prosecution
(Dr Kopelman also testified in the case of Lauri Love, whose extradition to the US was blocked in part due to the risk of suicide in a US prison:…)
James Lewis is talking about diagnostic criteria. Dr Kopelman doesn't like psychiatric books ICD and DSM, prefers to make his own observations, but the prosecution wants to run through ICD criteria and see if Kopelman has found them
Dr Kopelman reading from the introduction to DSM 4, that diagnostic criteria are to be used as guidelines, "not to be used in a cookbook fashion", says it's important to bear that in mind
James Lewis is trying to get Dr Kopelman to define a depressive episode, what constitutes a depressive episode and a recurring depressive episode
Lewis continually asking about a mild depression. Says he is trying to establish a "yardstick" for Kopelman's definition. Lewis asks him to agree someone with mild depression wouldn't cease to function
Lewis now asking about severe depression, which finds the sufferer very unlikely to perform social, work, or other activities
Kopelman has found Assange at the highest level, severe depression with psychotic episodes. Kopelman says Assange doesn't have delusions but the potential hallucinations brought him to this diagnosis
Lewis trying to challenge him by suggesting someone with this depression wouldn't be able to function. Kopelman says, well he hasn't been able to function
Wouldn't say he's been completely unable to function but has had great difficulties
Lewis trying to challenge/undermine Kopelman's expertise -- Kopelman says James Lewis has requested Kopelman's psychiatric services for the case and so it's a bit rich for him to question his qualifications
Lewis suggests Kopelman is "more of an advocate than a psychiatrist" to which Kopelman says he would like to respond to that with an "unparliamentary word"
Lewis asking Kopelman about patients "exaggerating" their symptoms or "malingering" -- Kopelman says he is aware of this possibility in every psychiatric evaluation
At Lewis' challenging, Kopelman says he has taken account of the fact that Assange would have reason to exaggerate because he doesn't want to be extradited. He has made his diagnosis taking this in mind
Ed Fitzgerald rises for the defense to object, says none of the prosecution's witnesses have suggested that Assange is malingering, so why is this relevant
Lewis asking Kopelman to list articles he's read on malingering, Kopelman finds this a bit insulting, lists out some articles
Kopelman: I don't know every article I've read. I didn't think I was coming here for an O-level test.
Judge trying to clarify, Kopelman has said he bears malingering in mind and the prosecution wants to establish his basis for this.

Kopelman reiterates he's well aware and looked out for signs of exaggeration
James Lewis: "let's stick to my script" and reads through definitions of psychosis

Kopelman: "Are you saying I don't have the expertise to diagnose psychosis?"
Lewis: clinical qualifications alone are not sufficient to diagnose malingering, is that right?

Kopelman: difficult to define, it's actually inconsistencies that indicate malingering, but some think there's a test for it, I'm a bit skeptical of that
Lewis trying to insinuate other doctors have disagreed about Assange's hallucinations, Kopelman trying to clarify by Lewis doesn't really allow it, says he can talk more about it when defense re-examines. Kopelman says this is the kind of thing psychiatrists disagree about
Lewis talking about what factors Kopelman "relied on" in his diagnosis, including that Assange was found to have concealed a razor blade and two other instruments for suicide. Lewis: I accept that he told you that
Kopelman: I'd like to point out for the court that there are a lot more factors here, so "relied on" may not be accurate
Long exchange with Lewis trying to challenge/undermine the razor blade incident. Kopelman accepts he should have said it was a self-reported incident but notes that the prison psychologist had discussed it with prison staff
Back from a brief recess. Lewis asking about other incidents that could indicate suicidal ideation
Lewis: if these factors didn't indicate ideation, that would alter your diagnosis?

Kopelman says there are many other factors, his psychiatric condition, history, actions he's taken more recently
Lewis asking why each bit of information wasn't in his report, that he reads medical/scientific journals, again implying Assange is malingering.

Kopelman: not everything goes into the report or it'd be very long, reads medical journals b/c fixated on his own medical condition
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer:
Lewis continues to ask why various factors weren't in his report. Kopelman says his report is already quite long, you could always find things I've left out that you think should be there, I found those to be administrative factors and tried to include psychiatric factors
Lewis trying to undermine Assange's suicidal ideation (but earlier he didn't recognize the word "ideation"). Kopelman pushing back against questions of his expertise and why every comment on his mental state wasn't included. "I don't pretend to have put every single comment in"
(Not including each bit of discussion, for Julian's privacy and because it's redundant of the above, Lewis bringing up a range of stray comments, Kopelman explaining that the report is a summary, not a full record of every possible item)
Kopelman referring to Julian declining to report some ideations for fear of being placed in solitary confinement
Lewis trying to suggest Kopelman might "change his mind about [his] diagnosis", Kopelman suggests they're minor factors, he's not going to change his diagnosis based on them
Discussion whether Julian fearing conversations being recorded consitute delusions, Kopelman considers the fears to be rational due to Assange's experiences in the Embasy
Long exchange over Assange's psychiatric history, medical evaluations. Now we break for lunch. Cross-examination continues at 2pm London time. #AssangeCase
Section 91 of the 2003 Extradition Act prohibits extradition if "the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him"…
Back from recess. Judge asks why Dr Kopelman's witness statement isn't provided to the press, the defense asks her to hear arguments that it be withheld out of respect for Assange's privacy. She'll hear those arguments later. Lewis continues cross-examination of Dr Kopelman.
Discussion over whether Dr Kopelman should have disclosed that Assange had a partner and 2 children in his first report, prosecution suggests this decreases suicidal risk. Kopelman says he was protecting Julian's privacy, that it's in his 2nd report, and the court knows it
Lewis asking Kopelman why he "relied on" reports from UN torture expert @NilsMelzer. Dr Kopelman says "relied on" is not accurate, one of many factors.

Would you agree that his report is neither unbiased or accurate?

Dr Kopelman: Well, that depends on your perspective
From May 2019: UN Torture Expert: “collective persecution” of Julian Assange must end now…
Dr Kopelman read Melzer's comments but didn't include it in his report as he found it more a "political document" than a psychiatric one, he read it but didn't rely heavily on it
Lewis quoting at length from Melzer's reports, his commentary on multiple governments mobbing up against Assange. Kopelman says he doesn't understand why Lewis is reading this, as he didn't quote Melzer in his own report
Seems main point of this exercise was to get Kopelman to agree Melzer's comments are unbalanced. Kopelman won't comment on the political question, says he just took the medical aspects into consideration
Lewis is arguing that Assange's comments in court -- 2 weeks ago he was asked and said he did not want to be extradited and last week made comments during court -- are evidence that Assange can follow proceedings (and therefore, it's implied, isn't severely depressed)
Kopelman says he can't make a medical judgment based on the relaying of these stray comments in court.

Lewis goes on to cite more comments from Julian speaking from the dock
Lewis says yet again (has said to multiple witnesses): are you really trying to help the court?
Dr Kopelman evaluated Assange primarily May-Dec 2019. These comments don't preclude serious depression. If anything they are evidence of his ASD Asperger's
Kopelman says Assange has passed 2 tests for malingering. Lewis says those tests don't test for malingering -- Kopelman says, I am an expert on neuropsychiatry, you're not, those are the tests
Kopelman cites the (TOMM) Test of Memory Malingering…
Lewis again asking a witness why he didn't include Gordon Kromberg's comments regarding US prisons in his report. Kopelman says he only received them after his report. Lewis complaining that he based his findings on defense experts
Lewis: would you agree that mental health issues didn't prevent Assange from leaking government material?

Kopelman: I...wasn't evaluating him at the time
Lewis: didn't prevent him from running WikiLeaks, from public speaking, running a chat show?

Kopelman again says he wasn't evaluating him then, determination is that depression at issue began in 2016
Lewis now wants to put Kromberg's statements about US prisons to Kopelman and see if they change his mind

Kopelman doesn't want to deal with hypotheticals
Kopelman citing many sources (including CCR, the Marshal Project) on US prison conditions

Lewis: so you're an expert on US prisons now?

Kopelman: no, but those are sources out there on this issue
Lewis challenging the potential sentence Assange might get, as one of many bases Kopelman cited as reasons to fear extradition

If he didn't get life in prison, sensory deprivation, segregated housing, would it change your mind?

Kopelman says it could but there are many factors
Kopelman again says he is confident Assange could find a way to commit suicide if extradited
End of cross-examination. Re-examination from defense lawyer Ed Fitzgerald
(Omitted some exchange in which Kopelman clarified comments and opined on differences of opinion regarding psychosis and suicidal ideation out of respect for privacy, and not necessary to repeat relevant portions)
Fitzgerald asks Dr Kopelman to comment on insinuation he is biased -- Kopelman says it's for the judge to decide but she'll find that his psychiatric report to be more comprehensive than the others
Defense: If you consider depression and extradition but not considering US prison conditions, your evaluation?

If extradition became imminent or were to happen, that would be the trigger to a suicide attempt
Kopelman testified in Lauri Love's extradition case as well. In that case he was reassured that US prisons are safe, but the court ruled that he should not be extradited, and since then Jeffrey Epstein has committed suicide in prison. "Those reassurances were not so reassuring."
Fitzgerald also mentions that Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in the very facility where Assange would be held in pre-trial detention. Dr. Kopelman notes that Assange will be well aware of that attempt
Segregating housing would worsen depression, and "isolation he would experience in North America would be far worse than anything experienced in embassy or Belmarsh"
End of re-examination, end of Dr. Kopelman's testimony. #AssangeCase

Now working out upcoming witnesses for the rest of the week
6 witnesses have been agreed in full (meaning they won't need to testify live, will just submit statements), others had been agreed but will now require cross-examination, some mostly agreed but require edits to statements. 14 witnesses for next week, 3 the defense won't call
Statements agreed -- not requiring cross-examination -- include those from Noam Chomsky and John Young (host of Cryptome)
Tomorrow we'll hear from Paul Mullen, Australian psychiatrist.

Now Ed Fitzgerald arguing against release of Dr. Kopelman's witness statement to the court
End of proceedings for the day, back tomorrow at 10am London time. #AssangeCase
Updated report: Day 11: September 22, 2020 #AssangeCase…

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