Assange psychiatrist misled judge over parentage of his kids, US tells High Court

Didn't make clear he was their dad... Why? In case CIA harmed them, suggests his barrister


Julian Assange's psychiatrist misled a judge when he delivered a report stating the WikiLeaks founder would be suicidal if extradited to the US for trial, lawyers for the US government have said.

Barrister James Lewis QC told the Lord Chief Justice yesterday that crucial reports were flawed because it did not clearly state that Assange had fathered two children while hiding in Ecuador's London embassy.

The WikiLeaker-in-chief is wanted in the US. He stands accused of hacking into US military databases and publishing classified docs. Although he won an initial legal bid to avoid extradition, the sole reason District Judge Vanessa Baraitser did not extradite him was because he would be suicidal if sent abroad. At the time the judge described that as "a well-informed opinion carefully supported by evidence."

Lewis told Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mrs Justice Holroyde yesterday (as reported by the BBC) that the previous ruling "carries with it the risk of rewarding fugitives for their flight, and of creating an anomaly between the approach of the courts in domestic criminal proceedings, and in extradition."

"Once there is an assurance of appropriate medical care, once it is clear he will be repatriated to Australia to serve any sentence, then we can safely say the district judge would not have decided the relevant question in the way that she did," Lewis said, as reported by Sky News.

Assange's psychiatrist, Professor Michael Kopelman, had mentioned in reports to Judge Baraitser that Assange was in a relationship with a woman who had two children – but, said Lewis, Kopelman did not spell out that these were the Australian fugitive's own offspring.

Had he done so, argued the US' barrister, Judge Baraitser would have ruled differently. Lewis argued that having one's own children to protect and raise can reduce the risk of suicide.

Today Edward Fitzgerald QC, Assange's barrister, told the judges: "Given the severity of his condition [Assange] will be driven to take his life, whatever the steps that are taken, whatever the conditions."

Previously the US offered to send Assange to a prison in his native Australia to serve the sentence that American courts will inevitably hand him, there being seemingly little belief in the US that Assange might be acquitted.

The US CIA spy agency also considered murdering the WikiLeaker during his time hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy, Fitzgerald told the court:

According to court filings in the case last year, witnesses alleged the MD of UC Global, a security company charged with guarding the embassy, had directed investigators to steal a used nappy from the bins in order to test it for DNA to prove that Assange was the father of two children born while he was in the embassy. (David Morales, owner of the firm, is said to deny that he was spying on Assange for the Americans, as his former employee has alleged.)

Back in the High Court yesterday, Fitzgerald suggested that the reason Stella Morris (the children's mother) wasn't identified in Professor Kopelman's report on Assange's mental state was in case the CIA decided to injure or murder her or the children instead of the WikiLeaker.

Lord Burnett commented that the report was therefore "misleading", something Fitzgerald appeared to accept by saying "There's no tactical advantage" and telling the judge that Kopelman himself had come up with the idea.

The extradition appeal continues. Judgment will be reserved at the end of today and is likely to be delivered in a few months' time. Assange, a proven flight risk, is on remand in HMP Belmarsh. ®

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