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Sep 23, 2020 81 tweets 11 min read Read on X
Day 12: Julian Assange's extradition hearing thread. We expect more medical testimony today from Australian psychiatrist Paul Mullen. #AssangeCase
Potentially more sensitive material will be discussed today that we may summarize rather than describe in detail for reasons of privacy. Court has commenced, the parties are talking about evidence that goes to Assange's suicidal ideation in Belmarsh.
Now on the stand is Dr Quinton Deeley, National Health Service psychiatrist who specializes in autism, ADHD, & other mental health issues
Deeley co-authored 'The psychiatric management of autism in adults'…
Deeley is testifying to Assange's suicidal ideation in Belmarsh and his fears of how he'll be treated in a U.S. prison
Deeley also testifying to Assange's diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome
Deeley confirming Assange's diagnosis of depression. Deeley interviewed Assange at length by phone and talked to others who know him well. Deeley says Julian's risk of suicide would be "high" in the event of extradition.
Assange's "obsessive rumination" and "rigidity of thought", symptoms of ASD Asperger's, increase the likelihood of suicide
To the idea that US prisons could prevent self-harm -- "I think the reality is that people who want to commit suicide find a way" both in UK and US prisons, not least in facilities of high security
Deeley: Half of all suicides in US prisons are by people in solitary confinement
End of defense questioning. Now James Lewis cross-examining for the prosecution. The first question is whether Deeley is a neuropsychiatrist, he responds that his training is in general adult psychiatry
Lewis is questioning Deeley about the autism spectrum, typically onset in childhood, but Deeley says signs can become more evident in adulthood
Lewis questioning Deeley's agreeing with Assange's diagnosis of Asperger's. Wants to play Assange's comments from the Frontline Club for Deeley to get his view as it pertains to the diagnosis, his ability to communicate. Tech issues playing the video, so the questions continue
Lewis suggests Assange hosting a TV interview show means he doesn't have Asperger's. Deeley says no, when the person speaks about topics they are very interested /knowledgeable about, in a set format, is actually where they're comfortable -- it's other venues that are challenging
Lewis: are you trying to give an objective opinion to the court?

Deeley: I am
Lewis: so you've got to take this new information (that he hosted a TV show) into account rather than excusing it away?

Deeley: I'm just providing relevant context
Now prosecution is playing video from Frontline Club
Video from Frontline Club, Assange had participated in Q&A by videolink, answering a question about the Afghan war diaries, lessons learned about redactions & informants

In his answer Assange talks about no resultant harm, USG refusing to help redact, civilian casualties exposed
Video appears to be from 2010. Video ends -- Lewis says, so this isn't rehearsed, shows him able to handle this conversation?

Deeley: no actually this is a good example of what I was talking about, doesn't have to pay attention to social etiquette, he's in his comfort zone
Lewis again says, are you trying to help the court or just help the defense?

Defense objects that Lewis asks all the witnesses this after they've given extensive, intelligible, reasonable answers.

Judge allows the question
(Haven't confirmed but video could be from this event: 'How Wikileaks is changing journalism'…)
Lewis reading from a recap of interviews, keeps noting 'good eye contact'

Deeley contextualizes eye contact, format in which he was observed is relevant. Recalls interviews with Assange's mother, comments from Kopelman. Doesn't assert Assange has no nonverbal communication
Lewis suggests having sole custody of a child contradicts diagnosis, suggests no court would give custody to someone who struggles to develop peer relationships

Deeley disagrees, says makes relationships based on shared interests, not inconsistent with Asperger's diagnosis
Lewis says 'lack of empathy' is part of Asperger's diagnosis. Quotes mother calling him 'selfless', says isn't that wholly inconsistent?

Deeley: No, not uncommon for someone with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) to be dutiful, principled, moved by the idea of suffering in general
Lewis cites Assange's articles, books, interviews, speeches

Deeley: not unusual for someone with expertise to be able to speak about it. Others have noted 'Edwardian' style of speech, unusual formality
Lewis: why do you always defend this diagnosis, why aren't you unbiased?

Deeley: I'm giving a summary, comprehensive judgement
Lewis: you often look at the ceiling instead of making eye contact when answering my questions, is that a trait..?

Deeley: I don't think I would score highly on an ADOS (autism) test, it hasn't been put to me before but I'm addressing you, judge, the defense
(Related, 'Lauri Love on computers, autism and extradition' h/t @OoAude)
Prosecution seems determined to try to undermine the idea that Assange is on the autism spectrum, questioning supportive items evidence in isolation, Deeley emphasizes the diagnosis doesn't hinge on one example.
One final question about risk of suicide. End of cross-examination. 15-minute recess now before defense re-examination. Defense says Paul Mullen isn't available for the afternoon, judge very concerned about not using the afternoon time.
Back from recess, defense re-examination. Confirms Dr. Deeley spoke to Assange for 6 hours over a series of interviews in July.

Judge objects to questioning as 'leading' without prosecution rising to say anything
Dr Deeley explaining the difference between a speech or interview in a set format as opposed to an unstructured and informal environment, characteristics of autism typically appear in the latter setting where the person has to identify and adapt to social cues
If the person is an expert on a subject, not atypical for them to be able to speak about them at length. The difficulty is in reading social cues and understanding how others in a social setting are perceiving a situation
Long defense re-examination exchange basically confirms Dr. Deeley's assessment that Assange is on the autism spectrum. End of testimony.
Judge now talking about social distancing in the courtroom, suggesting those not directly associated with the case need to re-arrange (leave?) to observe social distancing. Fitzgerald says these are the same people who've been in court for the full hearing and they're spaced out
Judge says they'll need to re-arrange and some will have to go to the overflow room
Paul Mullen will not be called. Dr. Sondra Crosby (examined Assange in the embassy) may be called tomorrow morning, but defense needs to confirm her availability. Judge wants to finish proceedings by Oct 2 but may not be possible with 14 witnesses left + closing arguments.
Recess now for lunch, both sides need to take instruction before we know what will happen this afternoon. #AssangeCase
Back from lunch recess, more social distancing in court now. #AssangeCase
The prosecution is calling its first witness (doesn't mean the end of defense witnesses) -- Professor Seena Fazel, a forensic psychiatrist, just sworn in
Fazel has a specialization in prison suicide, has published studies of prison suicide in The Lancet, other journals
Fazel has found that Assange is "moderately depressed", would not classify it as "severe depression" (as defense psychiatrists have). Now talking about relative risk of suicide in prisoners, 'high' must mean above average of other prisoners of same demographic. Risk level changes
Fazel says prison suicide is generally rare, rarer in US than UK. Fazel says Assange's condition is not so severe that he can't manage his suicidal risk -- phones the Samaritans, takes his medication
Fazel says he's not an expert on US prisons. He understands that they do offer some cognitive behavior services. End of prosecution questioning. Defense lawyer Ed Fitzgerald cross-examining now.
Fazel confirms Assange's depression, medical history. Talking about medication, Assange's dislike of segregated housing, that depression can be and here is episodic and a fluctuating condition.
Fazel agrees a conviction and long sentence would be a risk factor for suicide, and that the conditions in which he's confined can make a difference
Fazel confirms that solitary confinement removes opportunities to mitigate depression, could increase sense of hopelessness, loneliness
Fitzgerald asking Fazel about Assange's prospective conditions under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), no association with other prisoners and very limited contact to the outside world - which Gordon Kromberg said he may well be under - would that exacerbate condition? Yes
Fitzgerald references Terry Cooper study on suicide in US prisons, 2x as high in solitary confinement. Fazel noting that he needs more information, these stats are for New Jersey and California. Talking about whether solitary in general increases risk
"Hopelessness is an important risk factor." A factor for Assange, his "bleak prospects" if convicted
Fitzgerald notes Assange is likely to be perceived as a "security risk" in a US prison, would reduce his access to therapeutic treatments/avenues to mitigate depression. Fazel cautious to comment without more information but agrees if opportunities are reduced, risk increases
You've made assumptions that the US prison system is likely to treat mental health as well as the UK does yes?

Yes, based on some research but I admit I'm not an expert on US prisons
Approximately 6-7x bigger prison population in the US than in the UK
Fazel agrees he isn't an expert on SAMs, that we'd need to ask US prison experts. Hasn't been to ADX Colorado, hasn't heard that even the prison warden there described SAMs as "unfit for human habitation"
Warden also referred to imprisonment under SAMs as "clean version of hell"
Fazel: if Assange is severely depressed and in isolation, may reduce his capacity to resist suicidal ideation
(2019 CBS report: "Supermax: A clean version of hell"…)
Cases of Gary McKinnon and Lauri Love, where autism & suicidal risk played important factor in decisions against extradition -- Fazel aware of these cases but not an expert
Fazel agrees Assange has "autistic-like traits" but isn't an expert, has been to state and local jails in the US but not the federal system, not aware of ADX Colorado or Chelsea Manning's suicide attempt. End of defense cross-examination.
Re-examination, prosecution trying to argue that solitary (segregated housing) doesn't always exacerbate depression/mental health symptoms
The prosecution is now questioning defense definition of "solitary confinement" -- says according to Kromberg, "there is no solitary confinement in the ADC" (Alexandria Detention Center where Assange would be held pre-trial)
Defense objects that the prosecution isn't differentiating between SAMs and administrative segregation (defense contends Assange will be subject to both)
Now talking post-trial, the prosecution is reading off the amenities offered by supermax prison ADX Florence in Colorado. "13-inch television" "arts & crafts" etc
After long list of ostensible amenities, "would you describe those conditions as solitary confinement?" Defense objects that all of those are not part of housing unit H where Assange would be held. Question is asked nevertheless
Can't really comment definitively, would have to see what factors prisoner would actually get
Now prosecutor James Lewis "wants to make sure there wasn't a slip" in Fazel's previous testimony: "suicidal ideation doesn't necessarily correlate with suicide?"

People who commit suicide did have ideation, but minority of those with ideation do so
End of Fazel's testimony. #AssangeCase
Judge asks about witnesses and statements. 10-minute recess for parties to agree on what's to come.
Back from recess. Ed Fitzgerald reading from a neuro report, Assange's scores on psychiatric/other tests
Assange passed a test showing he was "very unlikely to be malingering" (as the prosecution attempted to argue yesterday)
Defense has culled 3 witnesses from its list to be done by next Friday. Dealing with witnesses for tomorrow. Dr. Sondra Crosby is available tomorrow but since she's in the US, not until later in the day. May have a later start tomorrow. Judge asks when closing arguments would be.
Defense asks for a month after testimony to prepare closing arguments, and a day to argue them in court. Prosecution says it wouldn't need more than 3/4 of a day. Judge doesn't like that they need time between testimony and closing arguments.
The judge proposes giving these closing arguments in week 5, "profoundly reluctant to delay the closing" arguments at all, due to the length of hearing thus far. Defense says this would present massive difficulties. Judge: there was never an expectation that you'd get more time.
Defense responds that they've asked for an adjournment at the beginning of this resumed hearing. Don't think I can do Mr Assange justice in this timetable, need to take instruction from him
Judge will hear argument about when they can present closing submissions but says not to assume they will get more time to do so
Defense realizes a delay means more confinement for Assange but he would prioritize putting forward the best defense
Judge notes that this case began many months ago (doesn't note that the prosecution added a 2nd superseding indictment much later...)
Prosecution proposes just written submissions for closing arguments instead of arguing them in court. Judge: "that's certainly an alternative"

The defense also notes they only scheduled for these 4 weeks.

The judge wants the defense to consider written closing only
Both parties will present arguments, on when to have closing arguments, on Monday.

Adjourned now until 12pm London time tomorrow, a later start. #AssangeCase
Note for #AssangeCase press viewing by remote video, 2-hour later start, sign in between 11-11:40am London time tomorrow.

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More from @DefenseAssange

Feb 21
Day 2 of 2 in Julian Assange's final UK bid to appeal his extradition begins shortly. We'll provide updates on this thread.
Yesterday's arguments from the defense:

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Thread for #AssangeCase Appeal Day 2

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Here is our live-tweeted thread from yesterday's proceedings:
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Oct 27, 2021
Julian Assange's Extradition Appeal Hearing Coverage

Court has begun. Julian Assange doesn’t feel well and won’t be appearing by video link today. #FreeAssange
James Lewis QC discussing housekeeping items with the 2-judge panel, dividing argument time between the defense today and tomorrow.
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& on the "assurances" here…
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The High Court judge is explaining that today's hearing will cover the scope of the appeal in this case and will not determine the appeal decision itself.
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