New article by @DeakinCrim’s Sally Kennedy and Ian Warren and the University of Salford’s Clare Allely: Psychiatric and legal issues surrounding the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: The importance of considering the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
Julian Assange is an Australian national and the founder of WikiLeaks, a nonprofit organization that publishes news leaks and classified information provided by anonymous whistle-blowers. In May 2019, a United States federal grand jury returned an 18-count criminal indictment against Assange. If convicted, Assange could face up to 10 years of incarceration for each Espionage Act (1917) charge and up to 5 years for conspiracy to access a government computer network. Due to Assange’s current physical location in the United Kingdom, the United States has requested extradition. However, to date, there has been limited scholarly discussion of the relationship between Assange’s autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and his potential extradition and lengthy pretrial or postconviction imprisonment in the United States. This article explores the psychiatric submissions from Assange and the United States in light of available evidence on ASD and the risk of suicide among people who are imprisoned. The analysis will focus on common misperceptions about ASD, the particularly detrimental impacts of the prison environment on individuals with ASD, the varying opinions of Assange’s ASD diagnosis, and the importance of considering Assange’s risk of suicide in the context of ASD. From a human rights and individual fairness perspective, a complete understanding of the significance of these issues which does not minimize a diagnosis of ASD is paramount for Assange and any future case with similar elements.