Day 13: Julian Assange's extradition hearing. Expecting more medical testimony today, from Dr. Blackwood and Dr. Sondra Crosby. #AssangeCase
The prosecution calls Dr Blackwood to the stand, just sworn in now, consultant forensic psychiatrist with the NHS. He's made a report for this case, prosecutor James Lewis is taking him through it now
Once again we may summarize the proceedings more than provide exact detail out of respect for Assange's privacy. Relevant for the case: Dr Blackwood finds Assange to be moderately depressed and able to manage his risk of suicide. This differs from the findings of defense doctors
Blackwood now more directly challenging Dr Kopelman's assessments, referring to the fact that Assange was never taken out of the prison for medical help. Recall that more than 60 doctors called for Assange to get medical help outside the prison in Nov 2019 medium.com/@doctors4assan…
Feb. 2020 (@Doctors4Assange): End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange thelancet.com/journals/lance…
"There is undoubtably some risk of suicide attempt in the event of extradition," but it doesn't rise to a "high risk," Dr. Blackwood says.
Dr. Blackwood on how Assange would be treated in a US prison: "We would expect there would be broad equivalence" in Assange's mental health care treatment. This is a key point, UK doctors expecting US prison mental health care to be adequate
Blackwood said he thought Assange was prone to "self-dramatizing". End of prosecution questioning. Defense cross-examining. Defense explaining to Blackwood that he drew on reports from the prison psychologist, with whom others have said Assange has had a difficult relationship.
Talking about why Assange was moved to the medical wing in Belmarsh last year -- the prison psychologist didn't properly explain to Dr. Blackwood that the move was related to suicidal risk, prison psych said it was about the prison's "reputational risk"
Long exchange on medical reports, medications that I won't report on for Assange's privacy. But Blackwood pushes back against fears for Assange's health. He's a "very resilient man" and "resourceful man" and some thought he wouldn't be fit for trial and yet here he is
Blackwood thinks suicide isn't as common in U.S. prisons. Now talking about what Assange would endure in a U.S. detention facility
Fitzgerald talking about SAMs, former prison warden suggesting high risk of suicide in supermax prison. Blackwood: "this is the most pessimistic end of the spectrum"
Fitzgerald for the defense: "but this is a prison warden." Blackwood then cites (prosecution's affidavit) assistant US attorney Gordon Kromberg
Blackwood drew on (US govt witness) Kromberg's submission to find that there is no solitary confinement in supermax prisons.
(Correction not necessarily supermax - this was about prospective pre-trial detention in Alexandria Detention Center)
But Eric Lewis (Reprieve lawyer) testified about solitary confinement at this facility. Blackwood accepts there is a range of opinion on the matter.
The key question is whether it would be "unjust or oppressive to extradite" Assange. Blackwood takes the US govt claims that the ADC doesn't use solitary confinement at face value.
Hour-long recess now for lunch. #AssangeCase
Legal background for Blackwood's assessment of the question of whether it's "unjust or oppressive to extradite" to the US include:

USA v Turner: casemine.com/judgement/uk/5…

USA v Lauri Love: judiciary.uk/wp-content/upl…
The lower court judge in Lauri's case found that "there is substantial risk Mr Love will commit suicide" in a US prison but an appeals court found that the judge was too credulous of US claims they could protect prisoners:
Reminder: at issue are both Assange's prospective pre-trial & prospective post-trial prison conditions. Defense & prosecution agree he'd be held pre-trial at ADC in Alexandria, VA. Prosecution claims there is no solitary confinement at the ADC. Defense testimony contradicts that.
Post-trial, defense argues he'd be held at ADX Florence, a supermax prison in Colorado. Prosecution says they don't know where he'd be detained post-trial, but they also say even admin-segregation at ADX doesn't constitute solitary confinement.
In general, the US government always says that there is no solitary confinement in US prisons, always referring only to "ad-seg" (administrative segregation). See this report by @theCCR: Solitary Confinement: Torture in U.S. Prisons
ccrjustice.org/home/get-invol…
In arguing that ADX detention doesn't constitute solitary, the prosecution says the facility offers "weekend 'brain teaser' games, arts and crafts, a weekly movie
program, and special holiday activities." The defense notes this is not the unit Assange would be housed in.
Furthermore, again, this is the facility even a former warden has referred to as "a clean version of hell," "unfit for human habitation."
Back from recess, Dr Nigel Blackwood still on the stand. Defense lawyer Ed Fitzgerald cross-examining. #AssangeCase
Re: whether it would be unjust to extradite, Blackwood was only dealing with 'the Turner test' from USA v Turner, regarding "capacity to control" suicidal impulses.
Fitzgerald is establishing that Blackwood was not addressing the Lauri Love ruling that the conditions of US imprisonment would be inhumane
Blackwood accepts the question of whether it would be inhuman should rely on US prison experts, which he is not. Blackwood has not visited any US federal prisons, none of the facilities where Assange would be detained.
But Blackwood can comment on reports on US prisons. At the time of Blackwood's report, he hadn't seen the statement from Eric Lewis or from Joel Sickler on solitary confinement/US prison conditions. He drew on Kromberg's statement and other literature in the public domain
Blackwood still says after reviewing academic literature that there would be "broad equivalence" between US and UK prisons. But he hadn't heard defense submissions on the specific facilities where Assange would be held.
Fitzgerald notes that in Blackwood's report he doesn't refer to other literature (just cites US testimony from Gordon Kromberg)
Fitzgerald: No evidence that Blackwood referred to anything other than Gordon Kromberg's statement. Blackwood did not comment on/consider the prospect that Assange would be sent to ADX Florence in Colorado.
"When you say there is no solitary confinement" at ADC in Alexandria, you are repeating verbatim what Kromberg said?

Yes, this paragraph was about Kromberg's submission
Blackwood: suicide risk is based on a multitude of factors. I understand there is a variety of treatments under SAMs. Fitzgerald reading from a prison warden stating that there is one standard regime under SAMs, applied to all under it
Blackwood agrees that in solitary, with no outside communication/phone calls, that regime would be "deleterious" to his mental state
And that is not like what he has in UK prison?

Blackwood: Yes, he relies on use of phone, communication to outside

So not equivalent to his UK conditions?

Blackwood: again that is the "most pessimistic end of the spectrum"
Isolation didn't agree with him?

Blackwood: *relative* isolation, yes (referring to Julian's time in the health ward in Belmarsh)
Aware that Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in Trusdale adult detention center?

Yes

When giving this glowing review of Trusdale you didn't think that was relevant?

I referred to the fact that Julian mentioned it to me
Lengthy discussion on "capacity to control" suicidal impulse - this is the standard established in USA v Turner. Blackwood essentially says Julian has capacity to control but this isn't necessarily medical terminology (Fitzgerald established with other witnesses that it isn't)
Some more discussion about Asperger's syndrome. End of Blackwood's testimony. Brief recess, expecting Dr Sondra Crosby after the break.
(Actually there may be one more question for Blackwood after recess - he's still on the stand and Fitzgerald took instruction from Assange)
Back from recess. My video briefly froze so I missed this bit:
End of cross-examination. Prosecution re-examination, Blackwood says that an Asperger's test would be better assessed outside of his current situation. End of Blackwood's testimony.
Up next is remote video testimony from American doctor Sondra Crosby, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Boston University and an expert on the physical and psychological impact of torture, who visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
(Technical issues with Dr Crosby's audio, brief recess while they're being sorted)
Crosby began visiting Assange in 2017. Her Feb. 2019 visit in the embassy was spied on & her medical notes were taken. “Mr. Assange’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality was violated, and his confidential information had been breached,” she said. theintercept.com/2019/04/15/jul…
In January 2018, Dr Crosby co-wrote, "We examined Julian Assange, and he badly needs care – but he can’t get it" theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Tech issues sorted, defense questioning Crosby. She specializes in health of those seeking and in asylum, as well as trauma and torture, has been to Guantanamo Bay
Boston University publication: 'A BU Physician Once Examined Assange. What Did She Find?' bu.edu/articles/2019/…
Dr Crosby also visited Assange in Belmarsh. In embassy she says Assange described symptoms of PTSD, psychological distress, and he complained of a number of "very worrisome" physical symptoms but Dr Crosby had no way of performing a necessary evaluation.
Again, trying to respect privacy and just summarize. Dr Crosby talking about Assange's mental & physical health deteriorating, suicidal ideation in the embassy.
Prosecution objects to questions about Assange's psychiatric/psychological state, that she's not an expert on that. Fitzgerald for the defense references her experience treating people with psychological trauma.
The most relevant point from Dr. Crosby: "Assange is at a very high risk of completing a suicide if he were to be extradited”
More discussion of Assange's physical health. End of questioning for the defense. James Lewis cross-examining for the prosecution.
Lewis: would it be fair to say you are sympathetic to Mr. Assange's cause?

Dr. Crosby: No it wouldn't be fair to say that at all.
When you visited Assange in the embassy, did you come to London for other reasons or only to visit Assange?

I had other business there and combined it with my visits with Assange.

So who paid for your travel?

I did.
Lewis: You say he was "confined" to the Ecuadorian Embassy but he was there of his own will wasn't he?

Crosby: I think that's a very complicated issue, his psychological state was such that he feared what would happen, I would say the question is debatable
Lewis: you rely on Nils Melzer's report, yes?

Crosby: after my Feb 2019 visit with Mr Assange I was very alarmed by his physical & mental health, spoke to his lawyers about my concerns, I couldn't convince Assange to leave the Embassy.
I wrote to the high commission for human rights, Mr Melzer partly in response visited Assange but by that time he had left the embassy so the conditions were very different. what I relied on were the 2 medical doctors who accompanied me and had concerns about his health
Lewis: Do you think Mr Melzer's report is fair and balanced?

Crosby: I only rely on his medical comments, the political dimension I have no opinion on
End of cross-examination. Fitzgerald re-examining for the defense. Establishing more of her experience after the prosecution tried to undermine her psychiatric expertise.
End of Dr Sondra Crosby's testimony. #AssangeCase
10-minute recess to see if the parties can agree on whether another witness's statement could be read today.
Back from recess, defense is reading a statement from Christopher Butler, representative of Archive.org / the wayback machine
Now statement from John Young (host of Cryptome)
Young: I published on Cryptome on Sept 1, 2011 the unredacted State Department files, that remains online today
Young: No US law enforcement has indicated to me that this is illegal, nor that it contributes to a crime, nor asked for them to be removed.
Seems end of statements for today. Tomorrow we'll have testimony from Patrick Eller [on the encrypted hash/password cracking issue]. End of today's proceedings. Adjourned until tomorrow at 10am London time. #AssangeCase

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More from @DefenseAssange

1 Oct
Day 18: Julian Assange's resumed extradition hearing. Expecting final witness statements today. #AssangeCase
Defense is explaining to the judge that the parties need a little more time to agree to 2 witnesses' statements, then give an update on the Spanish case (Embassy spying), then make a final submission on the additions to the latest indictment.
We'll break for an hour and a half and the parties will give an update on progress on these matters.
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30 Sep
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Cockburn's statement includes the importance of the war logs and Collateral Murder video to prove these incidents in the face of official denial.
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29 Sep
Day 16 of Julian Assange's extradition hearing thread. Today we'll have more testimony on prison conditions in the U.S. and what it would mean to send Assange there. #AssangeCase
Today we'll first have remote testimony from Maureen Baird, a former warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Baird has testified in other extradition cases about the inhumane conditions of US prisons and the inability to keep prisoners safe.
In the Lauri Love case, the U.K.’s High Court overturned the lower court judge’s ruling because the judge relied too heavily on the assurances that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons could provide adequate mental health care. (See more from day 13 assangedefense.org/live-blog-entr…)
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Day 15 of Julian Assange's extradition hearing and the beginning of the last week of testimony. See all of our daily #AssangeCase reports collected here: assangedefense.org/live-blog/
Today we expect testimony from Joel Sickler and Yancey Ellis, on the prison conditions Assange would face pre- and post-trial in the United States if he is extradited.
At issue in their testimony is whether extraditing Assange to the U.S. would be "unjust or oppressive" and whether he would be subjected to "torture" or "inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment". From our report on Dr. Kopelman's testimony on day 11:
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25 Sep
Day 14: Julian Assange's extradition hearing. Today we expect testimony from Patrick Eller, digital forensics expert, on the computer crime charge and the alleged agreement between Assange & Chelsea Manning to crack a password in 2010. #AssangeCase
Mark Summers for the defense says the prosecution provided its bundle for Eller, challenging claims in his statements, at 11:30pm last night. He has gotten up at 5:00am to testify and has had about 5 minutes to review these documents... Defense asks for an hour for him to review.
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Judge grants 50 more minutes for Ellers to review.
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23 Sep
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
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