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Psychiatrist says Assange told him he was hearing imaginary voices, music

Psychiatrist says Assange told him he was hearing imaginary voices, music
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An expert psychiatrist said Tuesday that Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeAi Weiwei stages silent protest against Assange extradition Psychiatrist says Assange told him he was hearing imaginary voices, music Assange extradition hearing delayed over coronavirus concerns MORE told him he was hearing imaginary voices and music and was at “very high” risk of suicide if the WikiLeaks founder was extradited to the U.S. 

Michael Kopelman, an emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, said during Assange’s extradition hearing that Assange has “severe depression” and “psychotic symptoms” that have led to auditory hallucinations, Agence France-Presse reported

The psychiatrist, who has interviewed Assange about 20 times, said Assange has imagined music and heard voices saying “you are dust, you are dead, we are coming to get you,” while he has been in solitary confinement in London’s Belmarsh Prison.

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“It’s the imminence of extradition and/or an actual extradition that will trigger the [suicide] attempt, in my opinion,” Kopelman said during the extradition hearing, according to The Associated Press

Kopelman cited “an abundance of known risk factors,” including a family history of depression and suicide and the isolation Assange has experienced since fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012. He added his prediction that Assange “will deteriorate substantially” if extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges, according to Agence France-Presse. 

James Lewis, who represented the U.S. government, questioned Kopelman during the hearing on whether Assange could have fictionalized his claims, to which the psychiatrist said he was always aware a patient could be “malingering.”

Assange’s extradition hearing began in September and is expected to last until October. The judge may take weeks or months to make a decision, according to the AP. 

His lawyers pushed for bail, saying Assange was at risk of contracting COVID-19 in prison, but the judge denied the request, saying he was a flight risk.

The WikiLeaks founder faces 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse after his 2010 publication of documents detailing U.S. military activities in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Assange fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited for now-dropped sex crime charges in Sweden. He stayed in the embassy until last year when officials turned him over to British authorities.