At the heart of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, his mental health and American prisons

On paper, British justice must decide whether the refusal to extradite Julian Assange to the United States for acts of espionage – his 2010 work on secret American documents in partnership with numerous media, including The world – must be maintained.

In fact, this appeal hearing, which ended at the High Court in London on Thursday, October 28, did not address the merits of the case. Legally limited to a small number of elements from the hearing at first instance, the debates focused on the psychological health of Julian Assange and the conditions of detention to which the founder of WikiLeaks would be exposed if the extradition were finally to take place. .

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Julian Assange: the refusal of his extradition to the United States examined on appeal

At first instance, in January, Judge Vanessa Baraitser had determined that an extradition to the United States, and the conditions of detention which would result from it, were incompatible with the state of health of Julian Assange as diagnosed by several doctors, and put him at risk of suicide.

The lawyer representing the United States, James Lewis, tried to discredit the testimony of Michael Kopelman, one of the psychiatrists who concluded that the Australian was very fragile. He criticized him for not having mentioned in his first written testimony to the court that Julian Assange had a partner, Stella Morris, with whom he had had two children, a factor which, in his view, could improve his condition. psychological. Assange’s lawyers countered that this omission, justified by the doctor’s desire to respect the couple’s privacy while their relationship was not public, had been corrected in her final testimony and the judge was aware of it, l ‘having indicated in the judgment rendered in January.

Contested American guarantees

Counsel for the Australian and lawyers representing the United States also clashed at length over the “Guarantees” offered by Washington as part of this appeal process. Over the summer, the United States indeed promised that, in the event of extradition, Julian Assange would not be held in the maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, and that he could ask to be served. his sentence in his native Australia.

For James Lewis, these guarantees are legally “Binding”. He also assured that the United States used to keep its promises. Mr Lewis tried to convince the judges that the commitments significantly changed the situation and nullified fears for the Australian’s life.

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At the heart of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, his mental health and American prisons