Assange could crochet and play bingo in supermax prison, US prosecutor claims
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Assange could crochet and play bingo in supermax prison, US prosecutor claims

London: The US government has suggested that Julian Assange would not be held in solitary confinement and would be able to crochet and play bingo if he is extradited and jailed on spying charges.

The revelation emerged at Assange's extradition hearing underway at London's Old Bailey which has this week been focussed on Assange's mental health.

People queue at the entrance of the Old Bailey court in London.

People queue at the entrance of the Old Bailey court in London.Credit:AP

His defence team has called witnesses to testify that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's, anxiety, hears voices, is depressed and would take his own life if he loses his legal battle.

The court has heard that Assange has withheld telling doctors his true mental state while detained in Belmarsh Prison because he fears being placed in solitary confinement.

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Assange remains in custody while he fights his extradition arguing that his human rights would be violated.

Psychiatrist, Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King's College London, has previously told the court that if Assange is extradited there is a "very high" risk the father of four would take his own life rather than serve out any sentence in a US supermax prison.

But Seena Fazel, a professor in forensic psychiatry at Oxford University, who interviewed Assange earlier this year said that he found the prisoner to be "moderately depressed," an improvement on the severely depressed state he accepted Assange was in as recently as December last year.

Fazel appeared for the prosecution. He disagreed with a psychiatrist called by the defence on Tuesday about the likelihood of Assange committing suicide.

He said the 49-year old had shown himself capable of managing his own suicide risk, by taking medication, undergoing counselling and accessing support from the Samaritans - a British mental health charity.

On Tuesday the court was told that Assange has made preparations for death, including writing farewell letters, receiving absolution from a Catholic priest and preparing a will.

Stella Moris, right, the partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, left, arrive at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey.

Stella Moris, right, the partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, left, arrive at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey.Credit:AP

However, Fazel said that millions of people experience suicidal "ideations" at points in their life.

"But a minority of those people actually act on those and even less die from suicide.

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"Suicidal ideation is quite [a] common experience and in a lifetime many people will experience suicidal ideation at one point or another."

Fazel also said that Assange was only on the "mild end" of the autism spectrum.

It was during reexamination, that James Lewis, the QC acting for the US government suggested that if extradited, Assange would be sent to the Alexandria Detention Centre.

"There is no solitary confinement in the ADC," Lewis said.

If Assange were found guilty in a US trial and jailed he could be sent to the supermax prison in Colorado known as ADX - the United State's highest-security prison.

Lewis said each inmate had their own 13-inch television and told the court that Assange would have "ample opportunity" to socialise with inmates and members of the public.

Added to this, Lewis said ADX inmates had access to indoor and outdoor recreation, exercise, wellness programs, weekend brainteaser games and arts and crafts, library and may "paint, draw or crochet."

Lewis said inmates "may participate in a weekly bingo game". However, he prefaced his description of Assange's potential prison conditions by saying that all might not apply to the Australian.

Fazel said he could not judge whether these conditions would reduce the likelihood of Assange committing suicide as it depended on the whether they were implemented as well as their quality.

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Assange's team have repeatedly said that the WikiLeaks founder would be held in extreme isolation conditions.

Last week, US attorney Eric Lewis told the court that Assange was at "high risk" of being subjected to Clinton-era special administrative measures where prisoners are subject to extreme isolation and have their legal and family visits monitored.

Assange is accused of violating the Espionage Act relating to the WikiLeaks' disclosures of a decade ago, when more than half a million military and diplomatic cables stolen from Pentagon systems by former army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning were published.

Manning was sentenced but had her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama.

This week, Assange's fiancee said the Trump Administration wanted to "pluck him out of the UK and put him in the deepest, darkest hole of the US prison system."

"They want to bury him alive and for him to never be able to speak again or work again or see his children," she told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Assange's extradition hearing is expected to continue until next week.

If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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