United Kingdom

Julian Assange 'binge-watched footage of war criminal's suicide'

Julian Assange 'binge-watched' footage of a war criminal killing himself in court after losing his case, a witness has said.

Dr Sondra Crosby told the court about Assange's mental health during his time holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The Boston University professor appeared from the US via video-link to describe the findings from her multiple visits.

Julian Assange (pictured) 'binge-watched' footage of a war criminal killing himself in court after losing his case, according to Dr Sondra Crosby

She said: 'When I saw him in February 2018 he first described his thoughts of suicide to me and spent quite a lot of time talking to me about how he'd been thinking about this very deliberately.

Dr Crosby said Assange, 49, described to her in detail how he had 'binge-watched the suicide of Slobodan Praljak, the Bosnian man who was convicted of war crimes'.

Praljak had killed himself on television and Assange spoke of 'how he had taken cyanide in the court and died'. 

She said that 'Mr Assange seemed very obsessed with this' and even 'stopped in freeze-frame and analysed the man's face' as he was killing himself.

The witness earlier said that 'the purpose of the initial visit was as a result of an invitation of an American doctor'. 

The doctor had 'organised an academic evaluation of the effects of living in the Ecuadorian Embassy for at that time around five and a half years'. 

She said that when she 'initially saw Mr Assange in the embassy in October 2017 he certainly described to me symptoms of depression, PTSD'.

Dr Crosby said Assange described to her in detail how he had 'binge-watched the suicide of Slobodan Praljak, (pictured) the Bosnian man who was convicted of war crimes'

Doctor Crosby added: 'Although he was certainly functioning and was capable of conversation and not in a horrible state. 

'Over time as I visited him again I observed his mental state was declining.

'He was describing more and more symptoms of depression, sleep disturbance, low mood, inability to concentrate, nightmares and just quite a lot more of psychological distress. 

'He talks as if he was essentially dead. He was tearful and pleading for help.

'The suicide trigger would be extradition to the US where he felt his life would be intolerable.'

James Lewis for the US, said: 'It was his own decision to put himself in the embassy.'

Dr Crosby replied that for Assange the decision was akin to 'being chased by someone who wanted to harm him with an axe locking himself in a room and not coming out.'

She said when she visited Assange in prison she was 'very alarmed of his risk of systemic infection and death'. 

She added: 'I could not convince Mr Assange to leave the embassy. I wrote to the UN high commissioner for human rights.

'An independent UN expert found he was suffering from psychological trauma and was in poor health which was the same conclusion I came to.' 

Julian Assange is fighting extradition back to the US in a hearing being held at the Old Bailey

Assange is fighting extradition to the US, where he faces an 18-count indictment alleging a plot to hack computers and conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

Giving evidence for the US Government on Thursday, Dr Nigel Blackwood rebutted defence experts on the extent of Assange's condition, saying his suicide risk was 'manageable'.

He told the Old Bailey: 'Mr Assange has proved himself to be a very resilient and very resourceful man and he has underplayed that.'

Dr Blackwood told the court it was important to consider Assange’s day-to-day functioning beyond what he says about his symptoms.

Assange got involved with painting, reading, exercise, and interacted well with others, he said.

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