Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 15 147

When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, the US Government burgled the office of his psychiatrist to look for medical evidence to discredit him. Julian Assange has been obliged to submit himself, while in a mentally and physically weakened state and in conditions of the harshest incarceration, to examination by psychiatrists appointed by the US government. He has found the experience intrusive and traumatising. It is a burglary of the mind.

Julian is profoundly worried that his medical history will be used to discredit him and all that he has worked for, to paint the achievements of Wikileaks in promoting open government and citizen knowledge as the fantasy of a deranged mind. I have no doubt this will be tried, but fortunately there has been a real change in public understanding and acknowledgement of mental illness. I do not think Julian’s periodic and infrequent episodes of very serious depression will be successfully portrayed in a bad light, despite the incredibly crass and insensitive attitude displayed today in court by the US Government, who have apparently been bypassed by the change in attitudes of the last few decades.

I discuss this before coming to Tuesday’s evidence because for once my account will be less detailed than others, because I have decided to censor much of what was said. I do this on the grounds that, when it comes to his medical history, Julian’s right to privacy ought not to be abolished by these proceedings. I have discussed this in some detail with Stella Morris. I have of course weighed this against my duty as a journalist to you the reader, and have decided the right to medical privacy is greater, irrespective of what others are publishing. I have therefore given as full an account as I can while omitting all mention of behaviours, of symptoms, and of more personal detail.

I also believe I would take that view irrespective of the identity of the defendant. I am not just being partial to a friend. In all my reporting of these proceedings, of course my friendship with Julian has been something of which I am mindful. But I have invented nothing, nor have I omitted anything maliciously.

I will state firmly and resolutely that my account has been truthful. I do not claim it has been impartial. Because in a case of extreme injustice, truth is not impartial.

The following account tries to give you a fair impression of today’s courtroom events, while omitting the substance and detail of much of the discussion. The single witness all day was the eminent psychiatrist Prof Michael Kopelman, who will be familiar to readers of Murder in Samarkand. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London and formerly head of psychiatry at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, Prof Kopelman was appointed by the defence (he is not one of the psychiatrists of whom Julian complains, who will give evidence later) and had visited Julian Assange 19 times in Belmarsh Prison. His detailed report concluded that

“I reiterate again that I am as certain as a psychiatrist ever can be that, in the event of imminent extradition, Mr. Assange would indeed find a way to commit suicide,”

Kopelman’s evidence was that his report was based not just on his many consultations with Assange, but on detailed research of his medical records back to childhood, including direct contact with other doctors who had treated Assange including in Australia, and multiple interviews with family and long-term friends. His diagnosis of severe depression was backed by a medical history of such episodes and a startling family history of suicide, possibly indicating genetic disposition.

Prof Kopelman was firm in stating that he did not find Assange to be delusional. Assange’s concerns with being spied upon and plotted against were perfectly rational in the circumstances.

Kopelman had no doubt that Julian was liable to commit suicide if extradited. “It is the disorder which brings the suicide risk. Extradition is the trigger.”

James Lewis QC cross-examined Professor Kopelman for four hours. As ever, he started by disparaging the witness’s qualifications; Prof Kopelman was a cognitive psychiatrist not a forensic psychiatrist and had not worked in prisons. Prof Kopelman pointed out that he had been practising forensic psychiatry and testifying in numerous courts for over thirty years. When Lewis persisted again and again in querying his credentials, Kopelman had enough and decided to burst out of the bubble of court etiquette:

“I have been doing this for over thirty years and on five or six occasions London solicitors have phoned me up and said that James Lewis QC is acting in an extradition case and is extremely keen to get your services for a report. So I think it is a bit rich for you to stand there now questioning my qualifications.” This caused really loud laughter in court, which remarkably the judge made no attempt to silence.

The other trick which the prosecution played yet again was to give Prof Kopelman two huge bundles which had, they said, been sent to him that morning and which he said he had never seen – unsurprisingly as he started testifying at 10am. These included substantial items which Prof Kopelman had never seen before but on which he was to be questioned. The first of these was an academic article on malingering which Kopelman was in effect scorned by Lewis for not having read. He said he had read a great many articles on the subject but not this particular one.

Lewis then read several sentences from the article and invited Kopelman to agree with them. These included “clinical skills alone are not sufficient to diagnose malingering” and one to the effect that the clinical team are best placed to detect malingering. Prof Kopelman refused to sign up to either of these propositions without qualification, and several times over the four hours was obliged to refute claims by Lewis that he had done so.

This is another technique continually deployed by the prosecution, seizing upon a single article and trying to give it the status of holy writ, when JStor would doubtless bring out hundreds of contending articles. On the basis of this one article, Lewis was continually to assert and/or insinuate that it was only the prison medical staff who were in a position to judge Assange’s condition. Edward Fitzgerald QC for the defence was later to assert that the article, when it referred to “the clinical team”, was talking of psychiatric hospitals and not prisons. Kopelman declined to comment on the grounds he had not read the article.

Lewis now did another of his standard tricks; attempting to impugn Kopelman’s expertise by insisting he state, without looking it up, what the eight possible diagnostic symptoms of a certain WHO classification of severe depression were. Kopelman simply refused to do this. He said he made a clinical diagnosis of the patient’s condition and only then did he calibrate it against the WHO guidelines for court purposes; and pointed out that he was on some of the WHO committees that wrote these definitions. They were, he said, very political and some of their decisions were strange.

We then entered a very lengthy and detailed process of Lewis going through hundreds of pages of Assange’s prison medical notes and pointing out phrases omitted from Kopelman’s sixteen page synopsis which tended to the view Assange’s mental health was good, while the Professor countered repeatedly that he had included that opinion in shortened form, or that he had also omitted other material that said the opposite. Lewis claimed the synopsis was partial and biased and Kopelman said it was not.

Lewis also pointed out that some of Assange’s medical history from Australia lacked the original medical notes. Kopelman said that this was from the destruction policy of the state of Victoria. Lewis was only prepared to accept history backed by the original medical notes; Kopelman explained these notes themselves referred to earlier episodes, he had consulted Professor Mullen who had treated Julian, and while Lewis may wish to discount accounts of family and friends, to a medical professional that was standard Maudsley method for approaching mental illness history; there was furthermore an account in a book published in 1997.

After lunch Lewis asked Prof Kopelman why his first report had quoted Stella Morris but not mentioned that she was Julian’s partner. Why was he concealing this knowledge from the court? Kopelman replied that Stella and Julian had been very anxious for privacy in the circumstances because of stress on her and the children. Lewis said that Kopelman’s first duty was to the court and this overrode their right to privacy. Kopelman said he had made his decision. His second report mentioned it once it had become public. Lewis asked why he had not explicitly stated they had two children. Kopelman said he thought it best to leave the children out of it.

Lewis asked whether he was hiding this information because having a partner was a safeguard against suicide. Kopelman said that some studies showed suicide was more common in married people. Besides, what we were considering here was stress of separation from partner and children.

Lewis then addressed the reference in Prof Kopelman’s report to the work of Prof Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Without specifying Professor Melzer’s background or position or even making any mention of the United Nations at all, Lewis read out seven paragraphs of Prof Melzer’s letter to Jeremy Hunt, then UK foreign secretary. These paragraphs addressed the circumstances of Assange’s incarceration in the Embassy and of his continual persecution, including the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Lewis even managed to leave the words “United Nations” out of the name of the working group.

As he read each paragraph, Lewis characterised it as “nonsense”, “rubbish” or “absurd”, and invited Prof Kopelman to comment. Each time Prof Kopelman gave the same reply, that he had only used the work of the psychologist who had accompanied Prof Melzer and had no comment to make on the political parts, which had not appeared in his report. Baraitser – who is always so keen to rule out defence evidence as irrelevant and to save time – allowed this reading of irrelevant paragraphs to go on and on and on. The only purpose was to enter Prof Melzer’s work into the record with an unchallenged dismissive characterisation, and it was simply irrelevant to the witness in the stand. This was Baraitser’s double standard at play yet again.

Lewis then put to Prof Kopelman brief extracts of court transcript showing Julian interacting with the court, as evidence that he had no severe cognitive difficulty. Kopelman replied that a few brief exchanges really told nothing of significance, while his calling out from the dock when not allowed to might be seen as symptomatic of Asperger’s, on which other psychiatrists would testify.

Lewis again berated Kopelman for not having paid sufficient attention to malingering. Kopelman replied that not only had he used his experience and clinical judgement, but two normative tests had been applied, one of them the TOMM test. Lewis suggested those tests were not for malingering and only the Minnesota test was the standard. At this point Kopelman appeared properly annoyed. He said the Minnesota test was very little used outside the USA. The TOMM test was indeed for malingering. That was why it was called the Test of Memory Malingering. Again there was some laughter in court.

Lewis then suggested that Assange may only get a light sentence in the USA of as little as six years, and might not be held in solitary confinement. Would that change Kopelman’s prognosis? Kopelman said it would if realistic, but he had done too many extradition cases, and seen too many undertakings broken, to put much store by this. Besides, he understood no undertakings had been given.

Lewis queried Kopelman’s expertise on prison conditions in the USA and said Kopelman was biased because he had not taken into account the evidence of Kromberg and of another US witness on the subject who is to come. Kopelman replied that he had not been sent their evidence until substantially after he completed his reports. But he had read it now, and he had seen a great deal of other evidence that contradicted it, both in this case and others. Lewis suggested it was not for him to usurp the judgement of the court on this issue, and he should amend his opinion to reflect the effect of the US prison system on Assange if it were as Kromberg described it. Kopelman declined to do so, saying he doubted Kromberg’s expertise and preferred to rely on among others the Department of Justice’s own report of 2017, the Centre for Constitutional Rights report of 2017 and the Marshall report of 2018.

Lewis pressed Kopelman again, and asked that if prison conditions and healthcare in the USA were good, and if the sentence were short, would that cause an alteration to his clinical opinion. Kopelman replied that if those factors were true, then his opinion would change, but he doubted they were true.

Suddenly, Baraitser repeated out loud the part quote that if prison conditions in the US were good and the sentence were short, then Kopelman’s clinical opinion would change, and ostentatiously typed it onto her laptop, as though it were very significant indeed.

This was very ominous. As she inhabits a peculiar world where it is not proven that anybody was ever tortured in Guantanamo Bay, I understand that in Baraitser’s internal universe prison conditions in the Colorado ADX are perfectly humane and medical care is jolly good. I could note Baraitser seeing her way suddenly clear to how to cope with Professor Kopelman in her judgement. I could not help but consider Julian was the last person in this court who needed a psychiatrist.

Lewis now asked, in his best rhetorical and sarcastic style, whether mental illness had prevented Julian Assange from obtaining and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents that were the property of the United States? He asked how, if he suffered from severe depression, Julian Assange had been able to lead Wikileaks, to write books, make speeches and host a TV programme?

I confess that at this stage I became very angry indeed. Lewis’s failure to acknowledge the episodic nature of severe depressive illness, even after the Professor had explained it numerous times, was intellectually pathetic. It is also crass, insensitive and an old-fashioned view to suggest that having a severe depressive illness could stop you from writing a book or leading an organisation. It was plain stigmatising of those with mental health conditions. I confess I took this personally. As long-term readers know, I have struggled with depressive illness my entire life and have never hidden the fact that I have in the past been hospitalised for it, and on suicide watch. Yet I topped the civil service exams, became Britain’s youngest Ambassador, chaired a number of companies, have been Rector of a university, have written several books, and give speeches at the drop of a hat. Lewis’s characterisation of depressives as permanently incapable is not just crassly insensitive, it is a form of hate speech and should not be acceptable in court.

(I am a supporter of free speech, and if Lewis wants to make a fool of himself by exhibiting ignorance of mental illness in public I have no problem. But in court, no.)

Furthermore, Lewis was not representing his own views but speaking on the direct instructions of the government of the United States of America. Throughout a full four hours, Lewis on behalf of the government of the USA not only evinced no understanding whatsoever of mental illness, he never once, not for one second, showed one single sign that mental illness is a subject taken seriously or for which there is the tiniest element of human sympathy and concern. Not just for Julian, but for any sufferer. Mental illness is malingering or if real disqualifies you from any role in society; no other view was expressed. He made plain on behalf of the US Government, for example, that Julian’s past history of mental illness in Australia will not be taken into account because the medical records have been destroyed.

The only possible conclusion from yesterday’s testimony is that the performance of the representative of the United States Government was, in and of itself, full and sufficient evidence that there is no possibility that Julian Assange will receive fair consideration and treatment of his mental health issues within the United States system. The US government has just demonstrated that to us, in open court, to perfection.

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147 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 15

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  • Mary

    If only Harold Pinter was still with us. He could have made a good play from this cruel travesty of a trial.

    Ref James Lewis, QC. There are no words.

  • John A

    Mr Murray, I think you are absolutely right not to go into detail about Mr Assange’s past medical history. What is important is his current medical state of health and how this has been caused by the inhuman and despicable treatment of the British and US authorities. This entire process is absolutely sickening and I hope humanity prevails and Julian can be united with his family in freedom.

  • Cascadian

    James Lewis QC (what standards are applied to gain a QC? Is being human one of them?) might profit, in his understanding of contributors to our sum of knowledge, from reading up on some of our most esteemed contributors – one such as Georg Cantor springs to mind.

    • CasualObserver

      If I could recommend that you revisit that fine TV series Rumpole of the Bailey, it may serve to illustrate the type that makes silk.

      As for James Lewis QC, he’s done well, becoming Chief Justice of the Falkland Isles, and supreme court judge for the Sandwich Isles. Its difficult to imagine that he does not realise the ludicrousness of his arguments in this case, but is probably comforted by the absence of a jury, and the lack of detailed reporting of the case by the MSM. Its very much the case that whilst CM’s excellent reporting enables the sound of a tree falling to be heard, it is none the less being heard by quite a tiny audience.

      Above all else remember that HMG has to be seen by Uncle to be making a determined effort to bring about extradition, such are the realities of UK foreign policy.

    • Squeeth

      He’s playing a weak to non-existent hand as best he can, which is what he’s for. The important point was that he got an answer that Bareitser can use to dismiss defence evidence that is watertight. That’s what happens when a first class brain and honesty are questioned by someone pretending to be a mediocrity in a witch trial. The two sides are on parallel lines, one honest and the other not. When Lewis can contrive a bump in the road for the defence, the judge will seize on it. In the Lipstadt trial, Barmy Irving was exposed as someone who did the same in his pseudo-scholarship.

  • M.J.

    Manifest discriminating attitudes towards the prosecution as compared with the defense. Let the grounds for appeal pile up and be used, if necessary.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Depression at its heart is an ability to resolve at a deep spiritual level certain unpleasant realities which make a person’s life seem unbearable at that time.

    There are many reasons for it occurring, which include but are not limited to:

    1. Being born into or brought up in a family lacking emotional empathy, caring and/or happiness.
    2. Being repeatedly taunted, bullied or ostracised for months or years in school.
    3. Suffering serious emotional cruelty from the opposite sex (or even the same sex if your sexual impulses are homosexual in nature).
    4. Being forced to live in a land run by cruel, heartless and unprincipled power groupings.
    5. Being ostracised for standing up for ones personal views, an act of utter integrity punished by those less honest than yourself.
    6. Living in poverty for a long time despite having high energy, drives and intelligence.
    7. Falling in love with someone who does not have the same feelings for you.
    8. Being constantly pressurised into entering fields you have intellectual talent for but lack the ruthlessness to survive in.
    9. Falling into poor dietary habits due to the pressure of work and lack of partners/family to ensure that you eat healthily (this is by far the most common component in depression, by far the least emphasised and by far the most amenable to simple reversal).
    10. Achieving many, many goals in life, leaving you temporarily without a new worthy one to aspire to.
    11. Worrying that you will never have children but yet to have given up hope.
    12. Losing a job you dedicated several years to achieve due to crass behaviour by juniors and seniors.

    The most seminal feature of depression, however, is this: YOU HAVE NOT YET GIVEN UP!

    If you give up on any sphere of life, the emotional tension is released, you put it behind you.

    The most obvious critique of depressives is that they have not learned to take decisions in a timely manner to prevent the depressive pressures from building up. However, I know from experience that someone barking out: ‘Deal with it!’ is not really very helpful. Especially if the person saying it has made it quite clear that they do not think you are particularly capable….

    Many times, depression lifts if another human being finds the right empathic channels to show understanding, acceptance and tolerance. Much of depression resides in a metaphorical emotional prison of not being able to open the door to the emotional cell. It is usually solved not through analysis (which brings middle aged acceptance at the expense of youthful optimism) but through age- and character-appropriate emotional understanding.

    It may sound heartless to say it, but depressives are about as understandable to many non-depressives as sociopaths are to empaths. That is why so many people say ‘Pull yourself together!’ and if you can’t, they walk away. They do not have the emotional toolbox to help, so they do no further harm by just pulling away.

    The worst are usually the sociopaths, because they see depression as a weakness to be targeted, not a sign of great empathy struggling in a harsh world environment….

    • Tom Welsh

      As far as I know – without the slightest claim to any expert knowledge – depression occurs quite frequently in people of very high intelligence – especially if they are introverted and sensitive.

      I have difficulty thinking of Mr Assange as introverted, but I could be wrong: skilled and dedicated introverts can behave in extraverted ways for considerable periods, although they then require some time alone to recover.

      Obviously he is very intelligent and very sensitive. To such a person, there always come times when he despairs of the world and especially of some of the human types with whom he has to cope. The best remedy is perhaps solitude, the enjoyment of nature, the reading of great literature, and above all mixing with ordinary decent folk – all of which help to restore one’s faith in life and the human species.

      Exactly the things he has been systematically deprived of for many years – quite deliberately.

      If Mr Assange never became depressed, it would be strong evidence that he is not a human being but some kind of robot.

      • Goose

        The depression gloom is justified in Assange’s seemingly hopeless case .

        In Europe, the UK, with its lack of a ‘codified’ written constitution and no true ‘separation of powers’, its grovelling servitude to the US, is a uniquely frustrating country at the best of times. Starmer’s appeals to patriotism yesterday ring hollow to anyone with a basic inkling of how he (while DPP) and the UK have behaved and continue to operate in this case.
        And isn’t it bizarre how he (Starmer) is so often chaperoned by the hugely divisive, ex-MP Ruth Smeeth, why? What was revealed by WikiLeaks hardly looks patriotic, is Starmer a ‘strictly protect’ asset? Wouldn’t be the first ‘Our man Keir’ would he?

        • Gerald

          Smeeths husband is a big dog at the British American Project, an organisation that has done more than any other to infiltrate US money and influence into British po!itics, they say that Blair was their greatest success story. Maybe Starmer is a member? Anyway the Knighthood is the giveaway, they don’t hand them out to people who may bite the hand that feeds them or who won’t back the establishment in a tight pinch. Starmer is a died in the wool neoliberal, even the Guardian like him, if that isn’t the kiss of death to any right thinking person I don’t know what is.

      • Art Thomas

        You have the expert knowledge that comes from within.

        And you rightly suggest that the source of depression is existential, and that it is only natural and reasonable for an intelligent and sensitive person like Assange to feel depressed given what he has witnessed and experienced.

        The defense and Dr. Kopelman are no doubt sincere in their efforts to defend Assange against extradition to the US. And no doubt they are sincere in believing that Assange has a disease called depression which will cause him to commit suicide if he is extradited to the US. This conflicts with Assange’s apparent declaration that he will find a way to commit suicide if he is extradited. He’s saying, “I’m making a choice here: To me, (not to sincere and compassionate psychiatrists because it’s not their life) my life will not be worth living if I am extradited to the US”.

        I’m not persuaded that so called mental illnesses are real bodily diseases. Rather I think they are an individual’s response to real or imagined external events; or traumatic past events the memories of which the depressed person is unaware, and that show up as feelings of depression.

        However, in the real world most people and most experts believe that depression is a disease. And in Julian Assange’s case this belief is put forth as a defense against extradition, a sensible one under this premise and these circumstances. If he is extradited and the US wants to incarcerate rather than kill him outright how will he manage to end his life? What will the UK and the US do to prevent Assange from killing himself?

    • Prue

      13. None of the above.
      Depression can occur or be brought on by no discernible reason or cause. This is what makes it so insidious.

      • Tom Welsh

        If someone is sufficiently intelligent and perceptive, could they not experience the profoundest depression merely through observing the behaviour of their fellow humans?

        In which case depression would not really be a mental illness, but a rational reaction to the environment.

  • Mary

    Stella Moris has just appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC.

    This is a fascinating interview ? well done
    ?? Catch it in
    of you missed it!!!!!!

    Victoria Derbyshire
    · 2h
    Stella Moris, lawyer & mum of Julian Assange’s two children, tells us she ‘dreaded’ their relationship being made public. In her 1st BBC interview, she says she’ll stick by Mr Assange whether or not he loses his extradition fight & hopes they’ll be married by Xmas.
    9am @BBCTwo

  • Deb O'Nair

    “He asked how, if he suffered from severe depression, Julian Assange had been able to lead Wikileaks, to write books, make speeches and host a TV programme?”

    In a country totally obsessed with WWII you’d think Lewis would be aware that Churchill suffered frequent bouts of severe depression.

    • Tom Welsh

      “…Churchill suffered frequent bouts of severe depression”.

      The following article (one among many) gives an interesting summary and conclusion:

      “Winston Churchill and his ‘black dog’ of greatness”

      “Despite all this, historians haven’t wanted to admit it: how could a great man have severe depression (much less manic-depression, which is likely more correct)?..

      “But what if… they are great, not in spite of manic-depression but because of it?

      “My recent research has suggested that in times of crisis, it is sometimes those who are seen as quirky, odd or with a mental disorder that show the greatest leadership. Mania enhances creativity and resilience to trauma, while depression increases realism and empathy”.

      • Stevie Boy

        Spike Milligan is another that comes to mind. Hilarious comedian, great author, loving person and a manic depressive. Go figure.

        • ftmntf

          Late Hollywood actor Robin Williams and British comedian Stephen Fry both suffered from depression too. Both high achievers.

    • Twirlip

      One might equally wonder how, if Alastair Campbell has always suffered from depression, he managed to bully and lie his way to the top so effectively. This is going somewhat off-topic, and isn’t at all nice, but although I know from personal experience that depression is so ghastly that as rule I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, I do make an exception in Campbell’s case, and only wish that he had more of it.

  • Tom Welsh

    In the NYT article linked to by Mr Murray at the top of his piece, I read that Egil Kroch – described as a lawyer – said of the plans to burgle Dr Fielding’s office in order to steal Daniel Ellsberg’s medical records:

    “At no time did I or anyone else there question whether the operation was necessary, legal or moral. Convinced that we were responding legitimately to a national security crisis, we focused instead on the operational details: who would do what, when and where”.

    And later:

    “Judge Gerhard Gesell gave me the first prison sentence of any member of the president’s staff: two to six years, of which I served four and a half months.

    “I finally realized that what had gone wrong in the Nixon White House was a meltdown in personal integrity”.

    In other words, a lawyer working for the President of the USA needed to be given a prison sentence to teach him that burglary and theft of confidential information are crimes, and… well, wrong.

    Everyone should read that short NYT article and contemplate its implications. Among which are that those who represent and act for the US government have such a strong sense of entitlement that they feel able to commit any crimes and to treat other people in any ways they wish.

    In other words, the government of the USA is a criminal organisation. I do not believe that the UK would be justified in handing over Julian Assange to dsuch a criminal organisation, for disposition as it sees fit. They may not drop him into a harbour weighed down with cement – but what they are liable to do to him is much worse.

    • Stuart

      “In other words, a lawyer working for the President of the USA needed to be given a prison sentence to teach him that burglary and theft of confidential information are crimes, and… well, wrong.”

      Many of the people implicated in the Watergate break-in were lawyers, including Gordon Liddy, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell ( the US Attorney General!!!!), the President’s lawyer John Dean and Richard Nixon himself. They all knew that what they were doing was a crime.

  • David G

    Craig has withheld certain details of Julian Assange’s mental difficulties out of consideration for his friend’s privacy, but he has not scrupled to include all of the unsavory particulars that clearly show James Lewis QC to be a bullying, stupid twit, despite that being a far more desperate condition. Talk about your double standards!

    • giyane

      David G

      Craig was comparing Lewis adopted tone with the normal adopted tone of other Prosecution barristers. Absolutely nothing to do with Lewis’ personal .rental state.

      A barrister is an actor , acting a part in order to engender emotion in the way the judge sees the plaintiff. In this court it appears that he intends an act portraying malice to be replicated in the female judge by his performance or some other manipulative ploy beyond my care.

      Whatever way he plays it is the conscious decision of a performer. His slip ups therefore get the slapstick laugh from the audience of his farce.

    • mr.lobaloba

      James Lewis QC is a tool of US government and you call him being in a far more desperate condition than Assange?
      Are you really that stupid?

      • Geoff S

        If it’s any consolation, I did read your post as firmly tongue in cheek, and am sure most did who were not looking to take offence

      • Stonky

        “Well, irony fail, I guess…”

        Only on thepart of one of or two dullards who didn’t understand it.

        • Twirlip

          Shame on you for using such hate speech! Victims of Humour Deficit Syndrome are entitled to the same respect as victims of Compassion Deficit Syndrome, such as the unfortunate Mr. Lewis.

      • Peter Moritz

        There are a lot of folks who never seem to get either sarcasm or irony or satire
        A failure of the educational system? Or the fact that so much of the utterances and behaviors of public persona are all of the above, albeit unintentionally?
        How can one react satirically about a BoJo who is a walking satire of himself?
        Or the irony when decisions come back to bite politicians in their arses continually?
        Or the ability to be sarcastic in the face of decisions eventually leading to killing millions in the attempt to “teach them democracy” or help them dispose of their wealth?

    • Stevie Boy

      Julian Assange is a prisoner and is being persecuted with little chance or hope of defending himself. James Lewis QC is free and is being paid to justify Julian’s persecution by a rogue state that doesn’t abide by recognised standards of law. No double standards, just a chalk and cheese comparison by yourself.

  • giyane

    Using psychological reports , which are inherently one sided and uncontextualised as evidence in a court is absolutely wrong .

    I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by a group of psychiatrists, one of whom felt he was able to categorise different levels of illness.

    He was roundly contradicted by the others who each said it was their privelege to work with people whose minds were different and interesting. But categories didn’t exist.

    I attribute certain over sensitivities I have to being descended from Huguenots who were persecuted for centuries. What category is that Mr Lewis? It’s very important for me to find out.

    To me even the label bipolar Craig uses of himself merely acknowledges the complexity of the human mind, the left right creative logical division of the brain and the combative discussions between the intelligences of the memory , logic, cultural memory and the conscience or heart.

    I am a man who kicks against the pricks. I have no idea how I would respond to being encarcerated and drugged for life because a friend in the intelligence services had stitched me up.

    Nothing about myself should ever be used to distract from the crimes of the. Mentally deranged superpower.

    The litmus test is: Is a person who flourishes under Hitler sane? By this test the court itself is foaming nuts.

  • Eoin

    It must have been a particularly harrowing day to have covered this hearing Craig and to have see your friend’s life laid bare, best wishes to you.

    Some of the discussion above may affect some more than others, and I hope you don’t mind me reproducing a standard footnote for similar reporting,

    “In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at”

  • Ian

    Craig, I think you have trodden the fine line between privacy and reporting with fairness, and more importantly, drawn out the reprehensible, sadistic indifference of Lewis and Baraitser for the US.

    It would be risible in other circumstances, where a man’s life wasn’t at stake, to hear the teenage taunts of the prosecution, and their absurd and transparent tactics. The defence has consistently put up experts, people who have spent their lives in their particular fields, with decades of knowledge and experience. It is obvious that Lewis cannot match them in intellect or knowledge, so resorts to the most ridiculous, patronising and juvenile attempts to undermine them and ignore their evidence. How desperate is he that he resorts to memory tests on obscure topics, and then demands to know why they aren’t familiar with documents which have been withheld until it was too late for the witness to read. It is worthy of the great literary satires and farces on state bureaucracy, where the functionaries are required to deploy an Alice in Wonderland logic in order to maintain their self-deception. The difference is, of course, Lewis knows exactly what he is doing, and so betrays the weakness, indeed complete absence, of any evidence for his own case. It is so trite, so banal, that it doesn’t surprise me that he was the object of scorn and laughter as his own hypocritical and deeply ignorant charade was exposed.

    Baraitser sounds like the archetypal jobsworth. She knows why she was chosen, and she knows what is expected of her. So her entire approach seems to be governed by her need to shield herself (and everybody else) from the intelligent evidence and arguments of the experts, while allowing far more scope for the prosecution to indulge in these absurd, demeaning rituals of denunciation and smearing (once again worthy of the worst of the old Soviet bureaucracies and 19th Century oligarchies – Gogol, Dostoevsky and Dickens would have a field day with this performance of the ruthless stupidity and absurdity of legal contortionist). It would appear she has, as you implied, a deep psychological need to shore up her denial of what she is involved in, and clutches desperately at any straw she can in order to cover her immodesty. It is a fascinating case study in the grotesque.

    A case of abuse and self-harm, except not from the defendant, but from the self-abuse and deception of the prosecution, who make a mockery of any due legal process and harm any claim to justice and its procedure.

  • David G

    I recall reading about the conditions imposed on Chelsea Manning during the first, most abusive phase of her pre-trial incarceration on the basis of her having been deemed a suicide risk. The supposed anti-suicide measures seemed so harsh and unrelenting that I thought they themselves could push a vulnerable person over the edge. In particular, it seemed that what amounted to systematic sleep deprivation was part of the program.

    I don’t want to glibly dismiss the procedures responsible people in penology and psychiatry have come up with to deal with such situations, and of course Assange will not be subjected to the tender ministrations of the U.S. Marines, as Manning was at that time, but I think that in the hands of malicious jailers, anti-suicide measures can be turned to cruel and perverse ends, and I fear what that may portend for Assange should he be extradited.

  • Annie McStravick

    It is grotesque that Baraitser, who purports to be concerned about time-management, allows Lewis to cross-examine witnesses for four hours.
    She appears determined to close down the case and perhaps she will do so this week. I think we all know what her ruling on the extradition will be. In one way I feel that this excruciating masquerade might as well be ended. The appeal process is the one and only hope for Julian.

  • Goose

    “Suddenly, Baraitser repeated out loud the part quote that if prison conditions in the US were good and the sentence were short, then Kopelman’s clinical opinion would change, and ostentatiously typed it onto her laptop, as though it were very significant indeed.”

    You’re right to highlight that, it’s highly significant …and indeed ominous.

  • Goose

    The reason mental health is no longer stigmatised is because of the growing acceptance that some of the best inventors, creators and original thinkers; the people who really drive human progress, esp. in tech fields, are either bipolar and or on the spectrum. To be an expert in any field today, requires an almost obsessive dedication, that simply isn’t ‘normal’.

    I’m intrigued by Assange’s courage. The MSM lazily mock him, as some sort of narcissist, sat in their comfy office protected by corporate legal teams, but how many of them would’ve had anything like his courage? History will be very harsh upon those journalists who didn’t speak out in his defence and trivialised this case.

  • Ian

    If you think yesterday’s account was bad, today’s feeds are even worse. Lewis is continuing to scrape the barrel with moronic jibes about mental health, condescendingly implying that unless the illness is visible and marked at all times, making the person unable to function, then it is all a sham, they are a shirker and a malingerer.

    After hearing evidence on the length of sentence Assange is faced with, and the conditions of Supermax prisons, they are now trying to argue he will get a ‘light sentence’ of 6-8 years and there will no question of inhumane treatment. Thus his mental health won’t suffer. They will console themselves with this charade, absolving themselves of any guilt in what they are doing, fabricating a get out clause.

    It is quite astonishing in its grubby, shallow, insulting manner, deeply prejudiced, ignorant and shaming to the prosecution. The sneering at people who are actually qualified in the field is worthy of the worst kind of intellectual cowardice. It is screamingly obvious that Lewis knows nothing about the science of mental health, yet considers himself qualified to undermine and libel people who have spent their lives in the field. A new low.

    • Squeeth

      Odd isn’t it that in other circumstances, such as the Salmond persecution, alleged perceptions are considered to be facts.

    • ftmntf

      Yes, the cheap resort to accusations of ‘shirking’, ‘malingering’ is reminiscent of the mentality that prevailed among the Brit establishment during WW1 towards soldiers mentally shattered by relentless artillery bombardments. Nothing seems to have changed in their repulsive attitudes towards mental health, i.e. if you can’t see a injury, it doesn’t exist.

      Meanwhile, today the offspring of the wealthy escape being sent to front-line wars by various devices like joining the air national guard.

  • Stonky

    This discussion might be an apposite moment to raise another issue of suicide.

    It has always seemed to me an extraordinarly feat of not seeing the elephant in the room that even if you accept for the sake of argument the official version, that David Kelly committed suicide, so many people in a position to do so have never asked the question “But why?”

    Apparently I’m supposed to believe that, having exposed the lies behind Blair’s dodgy dossier, Kelly woke up one day and said to himself “Well, that’s all done and dusted… so what will I do today? What to do? What to do… I know, I’ll go off to the woods and top myself!”

    I’m definitely not supposed to wonder why he was so frightened, when he gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committe a few days before he killed himself, that he could barely speak. I’m not supposed to wonder what or who he was so frightened of that they had to turn off the air conditioner to be able to hear his voice. I’m not supposed to wonder who had spoken to him in the days before he gave his evidence, and what they had said to make him so frightened.

    None of this is of any interest, which is why no journalist has ever asked Campbell or Bair if they know any of the answers.

    • Stevie Boy

      The state has moved on from the ‘death by suicide’ scenario. If David Kelly’s case came up today he would probably be ‘offed’ by a dose of Novichock from those dastardly ruskies – the poison of choice of the failed state.

    • Susan

      Stonky: Thank you for ‘remembering’ Dr. David Kelly. It pains me dreadfully to read your description of his appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Oh my God, what did they do to the poor man? It is too unbearable to contemplate. I wish, I wish, he could know that there are people who still remember his courageous actions, and who still grieve for him. Let us never forget him. R.I.P.

  • jrkrideau

    I believe Sir Winston Churchill suffered from depression. Just think of the distinguished career he might have had otherwise.

  • Scott

    Interesting, is it to be understood that Assange has a pre-existing ‘history’, as they say, of recurrent depression – but not recurrent mania/hypomania? Presumably if it’s ok to disclose the former then it would be ok to disclose the latter, or what’s the calculus of clinical reality or social prejudice here?

  • Geoffrey

    Presumably James Lewis is only acting as instructed by the US Government . Criticising and insulting him personally is as stupid as calling Anthony Hopkins a serial killer.

    • FlakBlag

      “Just following orders” is not a defense. Only a deluded, partisan, mercenary and/or amoral individual would undertake the job Lewis is doing. He probably tells himself he is “serving the law”, and in this way he can be the hero of his own story, human beings like to be the hero of their own story. In actuality he is a servant of the forces of evil and is thereby deserving of our derision.

    • Ian

      Anthony Hopkins was good at his job, though, and didn’t require debasing himself by denigrating others to perform it.

    • glenn_uk

      Hopkins was just acting, though, and all the participants in his films knew it. Lewis is actually doing this. Can you not tell the difference?

  • Willie

    Could the diagnosis of a deranged or diseased mind be grounds to have charges and proceedings against Julian Assange dropped. Insanity in bar of trial is a concept founded in much law systems – accepting of course that we actually have a law system that isn’t a weapon of intimidation.

    Of the many exposures made by Wikileaks and put into the public domain, I don’t think many will see them as being the product of a deranged individual.

  • The Eloi

    Although it’s not likely to occur, it would be a pleasure to meet you someday so I could shake the hand (post coronavirus) of the man who has so effectively shined a bright light on a beast of a system. I had no idea. Calling what’s taking place there a kangaroo court is too nice. In truth it’s hideous, appalling and disgusting beyond measure. Thank you. You’re a treasure and a true human being.

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