Psychiatrist tells court Assange is preparing to kill himself

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is at ‘high risk’ of suicide according to the testimony of neuropsychiatrist Professor Michael Kopelman.

Kopelman testified at an extradition hearing in London that Assange has “begun making preparations to end his own life including confessing to a Catholic priest, drafting farewell letters to his family and drafting a will.”

According to a report in The Daily Mail, Kopelman, an emeritus professor at King’s College London, also told the court Assange claims to have been hearing voices in his head saying “we’re coming to get you”.

“He reported auditory hallucinations, which were voices either inside or outside his head, somatic hallucinations, funny bodily experiences, these have now disappeared,” Kopelman explained.

“He also has a long history of musical hallucinations, which is maybe a separate phenomenon, that got worse when he was in prison.”

“The voices are things like, “you are dust, you are dead, we are coming to get you”. They are derogatory and persecutory,” adding “They seem to have diminished. Subsequently the musical hallucinations have also reduced, and the somatic hallucinations have disappeared.”

Assange also “reported a near-death experience and wondered if the CIA would find a way to get him or mess with his head” according to the professor, noting that this may indicate paranoia.

Assange has been in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019, and is often kept in solitary confinement at a maximum security setting renowned for housing terrorists and murderers.

The Australian journalist would face an 18-count indictment for allegedly hacking computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose US defence information, if his extradition proceeds.

“The risk of suicide arises out of clinical factors…but it is the imminence of extradition and or an actual extradition that would trigger the attempt, in my opinion,” Kopelman claimed, adding that Assange has been depressed “certainly throughout the time I’ve been seeing him.”

“It’s fluctuated a bit, his appetite has fluctuated, he’s had persistent problems with sleep and his mood state is worst in the early hours of the morning and that’s stayed consistent.”

“Mr Assange was very reluctant to talk about his suicidal ideas and plans because he feared he would be put on constant watch or isolation,” the psychiatrist added.

Lawyers for the US government claimed that Assange is “exaggerating” his symptoms, but Kopelman pushed back against the idea.

“I’m a psychiatrist, you’re a lawyer. I make my diagnoses on my criteria,” the professor retorted.

Assange’s lawyers also listed at least ten times the whistleblower requested the Samaritan’s suicide hotline number between August and November 2019.

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