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Sep 24, 2020 32 tweets 12 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Day 13 of the Julian #Assange extradition hearing begins.

Live updates in this thread:
The prosecution calls its second witness to date, Dr. Nigel Blackwood, reader in Forensic Psychiatry at KCL.
Blackwood maintains that JA suffers from MDD but not as severely as described by previous expert witnesses. Blackwood alleges suicide risk is manageable; patient has 'capacity to resist'.
These last days of medical testimony are quite personal and shouldn't really be public. Nonetheless, the defense needs to prove a risk to #Assange's health if extradited. This would be grounds to block extradition under s. 91 of UK-US Extradition Act.…
Gary McKinnon's extradition was blocked on grounds of Asperger's. Medical expert witnesses called by the defense in the last days noted it can add to the risk of sui. (on top of MDD), hence the reason it is brought up.

(I need to upload the segment I did on McKinnon last month.)
A lot of this is private so will try to keep brief: Blackwood is now challenging the accuracy of Asperger's diagnosis regarding JA. He suggests MDD may not be that severe.
Blackwood also tells the court that he thinks #Assange will receive the same mental health treatment in a US prison as in the UK.

I get the impression he doesn't fully grasp how draconian Special Administrative Measures are.
Prosecution ends examination of witness.

Defense rises to cross-examine.
Defense points out that Blackwood is basing his evaluations off of reports from Belmarsh psych Dr. Daly as indication that Assange was not in severe distress.

Dr. Kopelman pointed out the other day, these reports are not to be considered accurate.

Back and forth as Blackwood asserts he does not agree with Kopelman's diagnoses and evaluations.
Blackwood concedes that detention in isolation increases depression whilst also describing #Assange as resourceful and resilient (implying patient is not at grave risk).

I'm not sure how he sees resourcefulness and suicidal ideation as a good combination in a political prisoner.
Blackwood says he was led to believe by AUSA Kromberg that prisoners are not held in administrative segregation at Alexandria Detention, VA.

Expert witness essentially admits he took the prosecution's word there will be no solitary lol
Remember, Manning was held at Alexandria, VA and #Assange certainly to be held there too in pre-trial. Even before having been convicted of a crime he will be placed under inhumane conditions before the hell in ADX Florence. Alarm bells should be going off for all journalists.
Court resumes from lunch.

Blackwood concedes that he's never visited US prisons and determinations whether conditions are humane or not should be left to experts.

We had many such experts testify last week: Eric Lewis, Clive Stafford Smith.

All agree conditions are inhumane.
Blackwood confirms his report on US prisons was based off AUSA Kromberg's (prosecution) statement and other litt. He did not include submissions from the defense and experts, highligthing the real risk of #Assange being placed under ad-seg and SAMs.…
Blackwood's repeats this notion of "capacity to control" sui. impulse is some sort of reassurance. He reaffirms he does not agree with the Asperger's diagnosis, describing is as mild at best.

Defense finishes cross-examination. Lewis QC resumes examination for the prosecution.
Lewis points out that Maureen Baird's words on SAMs were in reference to ADX Florence not Alexandria detention (not true).

Moreover, SAMs are standardized, and ad-seg, used in pre-trial at Alexandria, would still be detrimental to #Assange's health.…
Blackwood's testimony is concluded.
Next witness to testify is Dr. Sondra Crosby. She is a Prof of Medicine at Boston uni, has examined detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and visited #Assange personally in 2017 while in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Defense begins examining the witness.

Crosby affirms she has extensive experience dealing with patients suffering from PTSD, victims of torture.
For Julian's privacy going to summarize this: Crosby states that Assange's physical and mental health were in decline and he could not get the treatment he needed due to confinement.
Crosby confirms she also visited #Assange in HMP Belmarsh. She corroborates what Dr. Kopelman told us: prisoners do not typically confide fully in prison authorities out of fear of being placed under stricter detention/sui. watch, making prison briefs unreliable.
Dr. Crosby clearly states that if extradited to the US, Assange is at very high risk of sui.

She highlights the decline in physical health during the last years and warns this could also get worse.
Prosecution begins cross-examination of witness.
As expected, Lewis begins chipping away at the expert's integrity. He inquires with Dr. Crosby whether it would be fair to qualify her as sympathetic towards #Assange and who paid for her trip to London.

Crosby says that would not be fair and that she paid for her trip herself.
Lewis questions her on the use of the term "confinement" regarding #Assange's asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy; that he went there of his own accord, skipped bail..

Crosby explains this as a flight response in order to evade harm; akin to being chased by someone with a knife.
Lewis again refers to the evaluation by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture @NilsMelzer to discredit the medical expertise of the witness.

Crosby, like Kopelman, says she only used sections pertaining to #Assange's health in her report, nothing political.

Lewis inquires whether Dr. Crosby is certified under s.12 of the Mental Health Act, to which Fitzgerald objects stating no foreigners are.

Indeed, this is a moot point given Crosby is American and does not practice in the UK.…
Dr. Crosby's testimony is concluded.

Defense reads a statement into the record from Christopher Butler (Wayback Machine), stating that still contains copies of @wikileaks publications. US government has never requested their removal.
A statement from John Young ( is also submitted. He confirms that he published the full archive of unredacted cables before @wikileaks (timestamp below). Still online today and US gov has never accused him of committing a crime or requested their removal.
Court is adjourned for today.

I will be live with a full video summary of the #Assange hearing:

Thank you for supporting independent journalism:

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