Over 160 former and current heads of state, ministers, parliamentarians, and lawyers signed a letter to the British authorities in defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
“We call on you to act in accordance with national and international law, human rights and the rule of law, putting an end to the ongoing extradition hearings and giving Mr Assange the freedom he should have long enjoyed – freedom from torture, arbitrary detention, and imprisonment, and from political persecution,” RIA Novosti said in the letter.
The message is addressed to the British Prime Minister, Justice Minister, Foreign and Home Affairs Ministers Boris Johnson, Robert Buckland, Dominic Raab, and Priti Patel.
The letter argues that Assange faces an unfair trial in the United States, that he is persecuted for political reasons, and that he could be tortured in the United States if extradited. The letter also points to various human rights violations in the case of the founder of Wikileaks.
Among the signatories of the letter are former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, current Argentinean President Alberto Fernandez, former Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva, and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Assange, accused of sexual harassment and rape in Sweden in 2010, has been in hiding since June 2012 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for fear of extradition. On the morning of April 11, 2019, he was detained at the request of the United States. A court in London found him guilty of violating bail conditions and sentenced him to 11 months in prison. Hearings on extradition began on May 2, 2019. Shortly afterward, the U.S. authorities announced that they had brought new charges against Assange for 17 episodes of violating the law on espionage and disclosure of classified information. If extradited to the U.S., Assanzhu faces imprisonment of up to 175 years.