STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a 'suicide risk' if extradited to the US, says psychiatric expert

Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King's College London, said Assange has a history of depression and there is a "very high" risk of suicide if extradition attempt succeeds.

Published: 22nd September 2020 07:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd September 2020 07:31 PM   |  A+A-

Julian Assange. (File Photo | AFP)

By Associated Press

LONDON: Julian Assange is very likely to attempt to attempt to kill himself if he is sent to the United States to face espionage charges, a psychiatric expert said Tuesday at an extradition hearing for the WikiLeaks founder.

Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King's College London, said Assange has a history of depression and there is a "very high" risk of suicide if the U.S. extradition attempt succeeds.

"It's the imminence of extradition and/or an actual extradition that will trigger the attempt, in my opinion," Kopelman said during testimony as a witness for Assange at London's Old Bailey criminal court.

He said there were "an abundance of known risk factors" including a family history of depression and suicide and the isolation Assange has experienced first in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he took refuge in 2012, and since April 2019 in a British prison.

Kopelman said Assange has also been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which has been associated with an increased tendency to ruminate on suicide.

Under cross-examination by James Lewis, a lawyer representing the U.S. government, Kopelman said he was always alert to the possibility a patient might be "malingering" or exaggerating.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks' publication of secret American military documents a decade ago.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

Assange's defense team argues that he is a journalist and entitled to First Amendment protections for publishing leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also say the conditions he would face in a U.S. prison would breach his human rights.

The extradition hearing began September 7 and is due to last until early October, with Judge Vanessa Baraitser likely to take weeks or months to consider her decision.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL_2020
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp