Pamela Anderson slams U.S. government as Julian Assange faces espionage charges

As Julian Assange is indicted on 17 new criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act in the U.S., Pamela Anderson is again defending the WikiLeaks founder.

“Who has endangered more lives?” the former Baywatch star-turned-activist asked on Twitter alongside a link to a story on the new indictment. “The corrupt governments, concealing war crimes? Or a single, brave publisher who exposed them, and shared with world the corruption in hopes to stop war?”

On the red carpet at the amfAR Cannes Gala Thursday, Anderson told Variety her friend Assange wouldn’t survive extradition to the U.S. from the U.K.

“I hope he gets out of there, but I don’t think he’ll survive extradition,” Anderson said. “It can’t happen. It’s not even an option. We can’t have him come to America.”

Anderson visited Assange, whom she befriend through designer Vivienne Westwood, many times when he had political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Since he was arrested in April, she has spoken out on his behalf several times, slamming the U.K., Ecuador and U.S. governments. She also criticized Sweden for reopening a rape case against Assange, calling it “an insult to all real rape victims.”

Anderson has also visited Assange in prison in London, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012. And she wrote a personal essay earlier this week defending him.

Assange was initially charged in the U.S. with conspiring with ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to access a government computer and publish hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on WikiLeaks in 2010. If convicted, he faces a maximum five-year prison sentence.

This new, superseding indictment — with an additional 17 counts — claims he violated the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing the secret military documents. Assange now faces decades in prison.

It’s the first time in U.S. history the government has charged a publisher with espionage, so the new charges raise profound First Amendment issues as it could limit press freedoms. It was a step debated but ultimately not taken by the Obama administration.

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