US wins bid to widen grounds of appeal in Julian Assange extradition case

by Jeremy

The US won the right to challenge evidence from a medical expert who found that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be at high risk of suicide if extradited to the US to face hacking and espionage charges.

Today, two high court judges ruled that the US had an arguable case to challenge expert evidence given by psychiatrist professor Michael Kopelman. He found that Assange was likely to take his own life.

Royal Courts of Justice London Getty

The US argued during a half-day hearing that Kopelman had misled the court by failing to disclose the relationship between Assange and his partner Stella Moris in an initial psychiatric report submitted to the court.

Justice Holroyde said the US had an arguable case that the district judge had taken an incorrect approach in concluding that Kopelman’s failure to disclose the relationship in his initial report was an “understandable human response” to protect the couple’s privacy.

“It is in my view arguable that a more detailed and equivocal consideration should have been given to the reasons why that ‘understandable human response’ resulted in the serving of a report, which contained misleading statements and from which there were significant omissions,” said Holroyde.

The decision widens the scope of the US government’s attempt to appeal a UK court verdict in January, which found that it would be oppressive to extradite Assange to the US because of his high risk of suicide.

Holroyde overturned an earlier decision by Justice Jonathon Swift in July, who rejected the US’s arguments over Kopelman and narrowed the US appeal to three grounds.

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