British court trusts US to protect Assange even though CIA plotted to kill him

By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout

In a patently political decision, the U.K. High Court reversed the British lower court’s denial of extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on a narrow ground, despite the recent revelations of a CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate him.

Assange was charged by the Trump administration with violation of the Espionage Act for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. He could be sentenced to 175 years in prison if he is tried and convicted in the United States. But instead of dismissing Trump’s indictment, the Biden administration continues to pursue the case against Assange, notwithstanding the grave threats his prosecution poses to investigative and national security journalism.

The High Court judges did not question U.K. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s conclusion that it would be “oppressive” to extradite Assange due to his mental health. Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, testified that Assange “suffers from a recurrent depressive disorder … sometimes accompanied by psychotic features, often with ruminative suicidal ideas.” He added that the “imminence of extradition or extradition itself would trigger a suicide attempt, but it was Mr. Assange’s mental disorder that would lead to an inability to control his wish to commit suicide.” Although the Biden administration challenged Kopelman’s credibility, the High Court affirmed Baraitser’s reliance on his testimony, which was corroborated by an experienced developmental psychiatrist, Quinton Deeley, who said Assange’s Asperger’s diagnosis means he is at heightened risk of suicide if extradited to the United States.

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