09:05 GMT +317 October 2019
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    Mashup of photographs of Julian Assange, Kanye West and Pamela Anderson.

    Yeezy Does It? Pamela Anderson Asks Kanye West to Help Save Julian Assange

    Jonathan NACKSTRAND/AFP 2018
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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains stripped of his internet access while in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Now, an unlikely ally is trying to harness support from powerful personalities to help set him free.

    Assange's internet was cut off March 27. In a press release the following day, the government of Ecuador warned that "the behavior of Assange, with his messages through social networks, puts at risk the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the States of the European Union and other nations."

    Most media outlets speculated that the move was made in response to tweets Assange wrote calling into question the British government's narrative on the poisoning of Russian-British double agent Sergei Skripal earlier that month and the subsequent decision of multiple EU states to ban Moscow's diplomats. However, a source close to WikiLeaks told RT that what triggered Assange's internet shutdown was his remarks about German police arresting the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the behest of Spain.

    Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told foreign media, "Both countries [Ecuador and the UK] have the intention and the interest that this be resolved" and that a solution be found to improve Assange's living conditions, but that the process would require input from multiple quarters.

    "There is a dialogue, there is a will and an interest to move forward in the solution of that matter," she said.

    Assange has been locked up at the Ecuadorian embassy for six years, ever since Quito granted him asylum. Assange faced sexual assault allegations in Sweden — charges he denies — and feared they would be used as an excuse to extradite him to the US on political or espionage charges. Both the Ecuadorian government and Assange believed that the charges were a pretext for political reprisals over Wikileak's publishing history.

    Part of the agreement to house the WikiLeaks founder stipulated that he cannot do things that might interfere with Ecuador's diplomatic relations. "He violated that agreement," Espinosa said after Assange's internet was cut off.

    Assange's precarious situation has earned the sympathies of some unlikely allies. "Baywatch" star and Playboy model Pamela Anderson started visiting him regularly as early as October 2016 when it was reported that she brought him vegan snacks.

    On May 10, TMZ reported that Anderson has attempted to enlist rapper Kanye West into a crew of Assange supporters. "I was wondering about your thoughts on Julian Assange," Anderson wrote in a letter to West and obtained by TMZ. "I support him and I know you value free speech — visibility is good for him, especially in America," where media is monopolized and "they are trying to put him away for life or worse for exposing corruption in governments. I think they are trying to kill him. It is Torture —"

    Anderson told West that Assange is being denied visitors and phone calls in addition to internet and appealed to the rapper's penchant for controversy and originality, telling him: "I've always supported your ‘no filter' — you speak your mind," and "If you want to know more about Julian, let me know or just look at his life and writing. How he has sacrificed for truth. I think you'd admire him." 

    West made headlines at the end of April and into early May with a series of bizarre claims and a repeated emphasis "free thought." West tweeted that he and US President Donald Trump "are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought."

    Trump responded on Twitter by saying "Thank you Kanye, very cool!" Despite Twitter's mounting outrage, Kanye also tweeted a picture of a signed ‘Make America Great Again' hat and "Love who you want to love. That's free thought. I'm not even political. I'm not a democrat or a republican."


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