On 11 August 2021, the UK High Court granted an application by the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”), on behalf of the US Authorities, for permission to expand the scope of its appeal against the decision to bar Julian Assange’s extradition. The CPS may now pursue its appeal on two additional grounds relating to District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s assessment of the expert evidence of Mr Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide.
Counsel for the US government argued that the evidence of psychiatric expert Professor Michael Kopelman misled the District Judge, as his first written report to the court did not acknowledge that Mr Assange has a partner and two small children, information that he had omitted out of concern for their safety. Mr Kopelman told the court that he believed Mr Assange would commit suicide if extradited. Counsel said that at the appeal the US Government would seek to show that Mr Assange’s mental illness does not meet the threshold of “a type that the ability to resist suicide has been lost”.
Lord Justice Holroyde found that it is “at least arguable” that the District Judge erred in her assessment of the expert evidence and that “more detailed and critical consideration” should have been given to Mr Kopelman’s omission of information.
A full appeal hearing is scheduled for 27 and 28 October 2021.