The US military 'obliterated' two Reuters journalists in Apache helicopter attack in Iran and covered up what they had done, the Old Bailey heard.

An ex bureau chief for the news agency, who developed PTSD and now works as a trauma counsellor, was the last witness in the second week of Assange's extradition hearing.

Dean Yates told in a statement of the 'full horror' of 'Collateral Murder' - the video WikiLeaks released in 2010 which showed US soldiers laughing as they fired weapons from the helicopter.

His statement was read by Assange's barrister Edward Fitzgerald, who was reprimanded several times by the judge for wandering off-topic.

The statement said: "Early on July 12 2007 I was at my desk in the Reuters office in Baghdad's red zone suddenly loud wailing broke out near the back of our office.

Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, who worked for Reuters, were killed

"I still remember the anguished face of the Iraqi colleague who burst through the door he said Nami and Saeed have been killed.

"Namir photographer had told colleagues he was going to check out a possible US dawn airstrike Saeed, a driver/fixer [went with him].

"It was my task at the same time as trying to find out what had happened to file a news story about the deaths.

"After midnight the US military released a statement (that said) 'Coalition Forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force'. I updated my story.

WikiLeaks released a video of the 2007 airstrike online
Footage of the strike was released by WikiLeaks

"Reuters staff had by now spoken to 14 witnesses in [the area] al-Amin. All of them said they were unaware of any firefight that might have promoted the helicopter strike.

"The Iraqi staff at Reuters were concerned that the bureau was too soft on the US military.

"But I could only write what we could establish and the US military was insisting Saeed and Namir were killed during a clash.

"Crazy Horse 1-8 [the helicopter] requested permission to fire after seeing a group of 'military-aged males' who appeared to have weapons and were acting suspiciously."

Julian Assange's barrister Edward Fitzgerald read out the statement from the former Reuters bureau chief

The statement added that there was debate over what led the Apache to open fire if there was no firefight.

It added that the men were seen to be 'expressing hostile intent' because they were apparently armed.

"They said 'OK we are going to show you a little bit of footage'," the statement said.

"I can see Namir crouching down with his camera which the pilot thinks is an RPG.

"The cannon fire hits them. The generals stopped the tape."

Assange is currently fighting extradition to the US

The judge interjected: "This is of no relevance."

Mr Fitzgerald: "It's against the backdrop of denial that the video is important... They ask for information and there is three denials. There was an FOI application denied. WikiLeaks release the Collateral Murder video on April 5 2010."

Returning to the statement, he read: "Namir and Saeed can be seen with a group of men in a street [weapons] are pointed down. The men walk about casually.

"Crazy Horse 1-8 seeks and gets permission from the ground unit to attack. At that moment, however, the crew's line of sight is blocked by houses. Some 20 seconds later Namir can be seen crouched down with his long lens camera raised.

"Here was the full horror - Saeed had been trying to get up for roughly three minutes when a Good Samaritan pulls over in his minivan and the Apache opens fire again and just obliterates them - it was totally traumatising.

"I immediately realised that the US Military had lied to us I feel cheated, they were not being honest."

Mr Fitzgerald said: "Had it not been for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange the truth of what happened on that street in Baghdad would not have been brought to the world. What he did was 100 per cent truth telling... how the US military behaved and lied."

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.