President Donald Trump’s last days in office have the entire country — and the world — watching to see what, if anything, he’ll do with his power as he winds down his first and only term in the White House, at least for now.
According to The New York Times, on the heels of a round of pardons granted by the president at the end of 2020, there’s now a renewed and serious push to pressure Trump into issuing a pardon for Julian Assange, the founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks.
A pardon for Assange?
Assange has long been at the forefront of conversations concerning potential presidential pardons, given his high-profile status. But recently, people in Assange’s camp have taken what appears to be every last-ditch measure to get the president’s attention.
Aside from filing a clemency petition with the White House, which is the first step in the process, Assange’s closest allies have reportedly hired a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who has direct ties with Trump in an effort to give them the best possible chance at convincing the 45th president to sign the papers.
The request comes as tensions between the United States and Britain, where Assange is being held, are thick; a British judge recently ruled to block Assange’s extradition to the U.S. to face various hacking charges and violations of the Espionage Act — a ruling that the U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly already appealed, according to the Times.
The push to get this done now, while Trump still has the power to make the call, is of the utmost importance, as Assange’s chances of gaining his freedom will likely slip away when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, given that Biden recently labeled Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” the Times notes.
However, Assange’s allies are also reportedly worried that, given the recent attack at the U.S. Capitol that shook the nation to its core, the increased scrutiny over Trump’s every move at this point might mean he’s done granting clemency.
Breaking the mold
Assange has gained a number of prominent and high-profile supporters during his time in foreign exile, perhaps most notably former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, who is one of his closest and most outspoken advocates.
The actress even offered rare praise for Trump this week, telling Fox News in an exclusive interview that pardoning Assange would be a “bold move” that highlights the president’s commitment to protecting free speech in America.
“Despite all the negative things, Trump has been a game-changer and broken the mold. This pardon would be a shining light on what freedom should be; it would encourage a whole generation of activists to continue to do important work and not be silenced,” Anderson said, according to Fox.
Adding to the urgency is the fact that Assange’s health has apparently taken a toll after years in prison; Anderson claimed in her talk with Fox that he would purposely wear extra shirts in an attempt to disguise how thin he is.
The 49-year-old has been locked up since 2019 in Britain’s Thamesmead-based Belmarsh prison, an infamous maximum-security penitentiary where he spends most of his time in solitary confinement, Fox News reported.