American actress/model Pamela Anderson has issued a fresh call to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is locked up in a British prison and is facing an extradition to the United States over the disclosure of incriminating documents on its war campaigns.
Speaking on breakfast show Good Morning Britain live from Vancouver on Monday, the Baywatch star said: “He needs to be set free, first of all. He’s an Australian in the UK waiting for a US extradition.”
She added: “He was right seeking asylum because everything he said was going to happen, happened.”
Anderson, 52, visited Assange at Belmarsh high-security prison in May this year, weeks after he was hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested by British police.
The model said of the conditions at Belmarsh: “That's not somewhere you want to leave a dear friend, and I care a great deal about Julian. I think he has been psychologically tortured.”
She described Assange as a “good person who has dedicated himself to telling the truth to the public, which we deserve to know, exposing war crimes… He’s sitting in prison because there obviously are a lot more secrets to keep. He’s just a fantastic guy.”
“When he saw me, he hugged me and lifted me off the ground,” she recalled, adding though that Assange was “unhealthy.”
Assange has been serving a 50-week jail term since early May; the UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, who visited the Australian behind bars later that month, said he showed “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.”
“My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” Nils Melzer said following the visit.
The WikiLeaks publisher was convicted for breaching bail in 2012; at that time, he was awaiting extradition to Sweden for questioning on accusations of rape and sexual assault. Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy, denying the charges as being politically motivated and fearing that Swedish authorities were going to hand him over to the United States, which wanted him on charges of espionage.
Assange’s ordeal at the embassy lasted seven years until April this year, when Ecuador’s new president, who is seeking closer relations with the US and the UK, revoked his asylum status. Assange was arrested immediately, and the United States was quick to file an extradition request, signed off by Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid.
The whistleblower is bracing for a legal battle against extradition, which is set to begin in February 2020. He is indicted on 18 counts that include charges under the Espionage Act, for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic and military documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which revealed how the US military had covered up the killings of hundreds of civilians.