The actress is coming to the defense of her friend, who has claimed political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012
The actress, 49, brought a vegan lunch to Assange, who has been staying in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, back in October and hand-delivered even more goodies last month. And now, in a statement released to PEOPLE, the star says Assange should be allowed to go freely.
“It’s crazy that Julian is still being held as a political prisoner — after the UN has stated (and recently for a second time) that there is no reason for his detention and has ordered that the UK and Sweden release him,” she said in the statement. Earlier this year, a United Nations panel said that Assange was being arbitrarily detained by the Swedish and British governments and asked for them to release him.
Assange is not being held at the Ecuadorian Embassy against his will but refuses to leave it as he is afraid that he will be extradited to Sweden once he steps on British soil. Assange was accused of rape by a woman in Sweden in 2010 and was placed under arrest in absentia — but not formally charged — for rape and sexual assault. All counts, except for the rape charge, expired in August 2015. The rape charge will expire in 2020 if the Swedish authorities do not formally charge him.
Assange has long denied these charges and, earlier this week, released his response to the Swedish prosecutor’s questions about the case, according to the New York Times. The WikiLeaks editor says that he fears that if he is extradited to Sweden that he could potentially be extradited to the United States on supposed espionage charges in relation to WikiLeaks.
“Julian is an editor and a publisher,” the Baywatch star continued. “There are laws in place to protect him. But they are not being applied. He still cannot leave the Embassy of Ecuador in London while elaborate plots against him and made up sexual allegations could result in him being extradited to the US — where he would not be treated fairly — because of his exposure of truths.”
WikiLeaks was at the center of much of the controversy surrounding this year’s U.S. presidential election. The website shared thousands of hacked emails from major Democratic figures, including Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chairman John Podesta and members of the Democratic National Convention. Some Democratic critics viewed WikiLeaks’ focus on the DNC and the Clinton campaign as an effort to thwart her campaign efforts.
“He is a hero,” Anderson says of Assange. “One day everyone will realize. But until now, this man has missed 7 Christmases with his children and is kept in difficult and tremendously stressful conditions-while doing us all a great service. Everyone in the world has benefited because of WikiLeaks — he has sacrificed so much — to simply share the truth.”
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Anderson ended her statement with a plea to release charges against two other famous whistleblowers, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Snowden now resides in asylum in Russia after the American government charged him with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property, while Manning is two years into her 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth military prison for furnishing 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks.
“He should be pardoned and protected when set free. Along with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.”
On Wednesday, Anderson took to Twitter to publish a post, in which she quoted the headline of an article she shared, “Free Julian Assange (or at least your f–king mind).”