11:12 GMT25 January 2021
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    The founder of the famous WikiLeaks website is currently held in the British Belmarsh Prison awaiting the results of his US extradition case. The authorities have refused to set him free even in light of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and despite pressure from the public.

    An Australian member of parliament from the Liberal National Party, George Christensen, has called on US President Donald Trump to pardon his fellow countryman, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, before leaving office.

    Christensen, who has already launched a petition to convince POTUS to pardon the whistleblower, claimed in an interview with Sky News Australia that with the expected arrival of the Democratic administration, Assange can expect nothing good for himself. The Australian lawmaker stated that Assange "has been a target of the Democrats" from the very beginning of his prosecution under President Barack Obama over revealing secret documents to the world.

    "I mean Hillary Clinton hates his guts, obviously, for exposing who the real Hillary was, and you’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the deep state", Christensen said.

    The lawmaker went on to note that the projected future US president, Joe Biden, is no better than Obama or Clinton, recalling that he called the whistleblower a "hi-tech terrorist". In Christensen's opinion, Trump is the last chance for Assange to avoid the prospect of getting a 175-year prison term in the US, while for POTUS it is a chance to "stand up for free speech" and "poke the deep state in the eye".

    Activists, UN Officials Call for Assange Release and Pardoning

    Christensen's call to Trump comes in the wake of former actress and long-time Assange defender Pamela Anderson also issuing a call for Trump to pardon the whistleblower.

    At the same time, UN Special Rapporteur for Torture Nils Melzer recently urged the British authorities to release the whistleblower from the Belmarsh high-security prison, where he awaits the results of the US extradition hearing. The rapporteur argued that inmates whose "imprisonment is not absolutely necessary" should not stay in prison, with Belmarsh specifically recently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak on its premises.

    Assange has spent over the year in the UK prison, first over his violation of bail conditions in 2012 and now as a subject to a US extradition request. The whistleblower sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to escape hearings in regards to rape allegations against him, which Assange claims had been orchestrated to eventually extradite him to the US. Ecuador withdrew his asylum in 2019, resulting in his arrest by the UK police.

    Washington seeks to prosecute Assange over his role in publishing secret cables from the US State Department as well as Iraq and Afghan war logs in 2010. The US accuses him of hacking into the classified Pentagon network to acquire the secret information with the help of Department of Defence analyst Chelsea Manning. Washington has turned a blind eye to the protests from human rights activists and the public, who consider Assange's prosecution an attack on journalism and free speech.


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