The fate of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange will be decided on January 4, when the Old Bailey court pronounce judgment whether he will be extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom.
The United States has charged him with hacking government computers and spying after obtaining and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents between 2010 and 2011, including war diaries in Afghanistan and Iraq. The charges could lead to an unprecedented 175 years in prison for the Australian-born publisher.
He was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in February 2019, where he had been granted asylum seven years earlier.
Recently, calls for forgiveness have grown louder, including from unlikely figures such as former US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a Republican.
In September, 160 former and current world leaders and diplomats sign a letter asking the British government to prevent his extradition.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have called for his release.
Increasingly, prominent media outlets such as The Guardian are also expressing concern over the charges against the jailed publisher.
Yet some continue to support the United States’ attempt to punish Assange.
Here are some highlights from world leaders, diplomats, academics and celebrities:
Alberto Fernandez, President of Argentina
The Argentine president, described as a leftist, was one of the signatories of the September letter, which called the allegations against Assange “disturbing.”
We call on you to act in accordance with national and international law, human rights and the rule of law by ending the ongoing extradition proceedings and granting Mr. Assange his long-awaited freedom – the right not to be subjected to torture, arbitrary detention and deprivation of liberty and political persecution, ”the letter said.
Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the British Labor Party
The former Labor Party leader and current British MP, a veteran socialist, said that a possible extradition to the United States should be opposed, and called for the rights of whistleblowers and journalists to be ” respected for the good of us all ”.
The extradition of Julian Assange to the United States for revealing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be fought by the British government.pic.twitter.com/CxTUrOfkHt
– Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 11, 2019
Lula Da Silva, former Brazilian leader
The former Brazilian president has always demanded the release of Assange. In September, he wrote a column for the British Guardian newspaper, claiming that Assange’s possible extradition to the United States would be “a scandal”.
Noam Chomsky, leading intellectual
Linguist and political critic Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s foremost intellectuals, says Assange’s extradition would be “catastrophic” for press freedom.
“Assange is being judged for his journalism, for his principles, not for his personality,” he and writer Alice Walker said in an op-ed for British newspaper The Independent.
Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist
The world-renowned artist praised the founder of WikiLeaks, saying Assange represents “a core value of why we are free” – a comment referring to freedom of the press.
“We need a lot of protest, and it can take any form. I’m an artist, if I can’t use my art it’s very limited so I’d rather stay silent, ”he said at a pro-Assange rally in September.
Rafael Correa, former President of Ecuador
The former Ecuadorian president has long supported the Australian, granting him asylum in 2012 at the country’s embassy in the United Kingdom.
After his successor and current President Lenin Moreno revoked Assange’s asylum, leading to his arrest by British authorities, Correa strongly condemned the move.
“Villainy and betrayal can be summed up in two words: Lenin Moreno,” he declared.
Sarah Palin, former Republican candidate for the US vice-presidency
Earlier this month, former Republican running mate Palin asked for Assange’s pardon.
“I made a mistake a few years ago, not supporting Julian Assange – thinking he was a bad guy,” Palin said on social media. “And I’ve learned a lot since… He deserves a grace.
Palin had previously been a fiery critic of Assange, who posted private emails and photos of the former governor of Alaska in 2008 during his election campaign.
It’s amazing to see, all sides of politics agree: strong @Guardian editorial yesterday https://t.co/yKytmEz5eY to Sarah Palin who just posted this: @realDonaldTrump#PardonAssange#AssangePardon#FreeAssangeNOW#FreeSpeechHero# 1A pic.twitter.com/V9oqKqD2wk
– Stella Moris (@ StellaMoris1) December 19, 2020
Pamela Anderson, actress
The TV and film actor took to social media in September and called on Trump to forgive Assange.
Anderson, who rose to fame after starring in the popular television series Baywatch of the 1990s, has long supported the founder of WikiLeaks, visiting him in London before and after his arrest by the Ecuadorian embassy.
Roger Waters, musician
The Pink Floyd co-founder has been spotted at several protests over the years in support of Assange’s release and against his extradition.
At a pro-Assange rally in September 2019, Waters performed the band’s song “Wish You Were Here” in honor of the 49-year-old Australian. The song was originally written to pay tribute to fellow Pink Floyd co-founder, the late Syd Barrett – who died in 2006.
Here’s a better quality livestream of the extraordinary event outside the Home Office in London when Roger Waters performed his classic ‘Wish You were Here’ for Julian #Assange, and I and Julian’s brother, Gabriel, talked.https://t.co/BcWdVvcLDo
– John Pilger (@johnpilger) September 3, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard, American Democratic politician
Democratic MK and 2020 presidential candidate Gabbard has been one of the most vocal voices demanding Trump’s forgiveness of Assange. She said the founder of WikiLeaks had acted in “the public interest … to expose the lies and blatant abuse of power in our government.”
“As you forgive people, consider forgiving those who, at the cost of great personal sacrifice, have exposed the deception and criminality of those in the Deep State,” Gabbard tweeted last month, in support for Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
.@realDonaldTrump Since you are giving pardons to people, consider forgiving those who, at the cost of great personal sacrifice, have exposed the deception and criminality of those in the Deep State. https://t.co/aeXklUsNSd
– Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) November 26, 2020
Edward Snowden, American whistleblower
US whistleblower Snowden called on Trump to forgive Assange, tweeting on December 3: “Mr. Mr. President, if you only grant one act of mercy during your tenure, free Julian Assange. Only you can save his life. @realDonaldTrump. “
MIA, British musician
British rapper MIA has described Assange as “an icon on a scale we’ve never had,” and has previously visited him in Belmarsh, a high-security prison where he is currently being held.
In one interview with Al Jazeera last year, the Sri Lankan-born musician said, “Persecute him [Assange] will not solve any of the problems we have as humanity progresses.
Daniel Ellsberg, American whistleblower
Renowned American whistleblower Ellsberg said Assange’s publication of the Afghanistan and Iraq War Diaries was “of comparable importance” to the Pentagon Papers – a study of the American War in Vietnam, which he disclosed in 1971. .
The former military analyst made the comments during Assange’s trial in September.
“It was clear to me that these revelations, like the Pentagon Papers, have the ability to inform the public that they had been seriously misled about the nature of war, the progress of the war, the likelihood of it. ends, ”he told the court.
Criticism of Assange
Lenin Moreno, President of Ecuador
The Ecuadorian president was responsible for revoking Assange’s asylum at the country’s embassy in London, which led to his arrest.
Moreno accused the editor of WikiLeaks of “espionage” while at the embassy.
“We cannot allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a spy center. This activity violates the conditions of asylum. Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law, ”Morena said, according to The Guardian.
Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State
Upon his arrest, Clinton said Assange should “answer for what he did.”
“I think it’s clear from the indictment that has been released that it’s not about punishing journalism, it’s about helping hack a military computer to steal information to the US government, ”she said.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Assange and WikiLeaks released a series of hacked Democratic National Committee emails that proved to be a great embarrassment and source of criticism for Clinton and the Democrats.
Mitch McConnell, American Republican politician
The current majority leader in the US Senate has in the past been very critical of Assange, calling him a “high-tech terrorist” in 2010.
McConnell said Assange has done “enormous damage” to the United States and its work with other countries.
John Bolton, former NSA
Former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, Bolton has previously said that “US cyber warfare officials should use WikiLeaks to train on target.”
The Republican politician was a staunch supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while serving in government under the George W. Bush administration.