Julian Assange should be granted political asylum in France to avoid prosecution by the US, French politicians have said.
Some 40 deputies from the French National Assembly signed a motion for a resolution stating that "France cannot remain silent" about the fate of the Australian who the US wants extradited from the UK. Elected representatives from all sides of France's political spectrum backed the move, including François Ruffin from the left-wing party La France Insoumise who pleaded for "the release of this fighter for truth" at a press conference, Le Figaro reports.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon tweeted on Tuesday: "Assange persecuted to death. In prison, in solitary confinement, threatened to death. For years we have been calling for him to be welcomed in France. France must not remain silent".
Fellow National Assembly member Jean Lassalle of the lower house's Libertés et Territoires group pointed to the "painful and dramatic, but also exceptional" nature of Mr Assange's situation.
In May 2019, a federal grand jury in the US returned an 18-count superseding indictment charging Mr Assange with offences related to his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the US.
The indictment alleges Mr Assange was complicit with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the country's defence.
It followed Mr Assange's arrest by British police in 2019 after he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
In June last year, the US Department of Justice published details of new allegations that Mr Assange had conspired with hackers to commit "computer intrusions" for the benefit of WikiLeaks.
Mr Assange is currently being held in high-security HM Prison Belmarsh as he awaits the verdict of High Court judges who are expected to rule whether or not to uphold a previous decision not to extradite the 50-year-old.
The US government is appealing against the High Court's previous decision not to extradite him, which was taken on the basis of Mr Assange's poor mental health.
** Stella Morris speaking outside the High Court (Image: Getty)
** Protestors call for Mr Assange's release (Image: Getty)
The French tabloid France-Soir reports Mr Assange has close ties to France since 2005, living in Paris where he founded and registered Wikileaks.
John Shipton, Mr Assange's father, visited the French capital this week to plead his son's case.
In an interview posted on YouTube, he said France and Germany were at the forefront of being able to help his son in the future because neither had condemned Mr Assange.
He added that the case offered France an opportunity to assert itself in the leadership of Europe with Germany relying on France geopolitically.
**Mr Shipton, 78, said: "All of Europe rely on French diplomatic skill."
At a press conference in France, the lawyer Stella Morris, with whom Mr Assange has two children, said the WikiLeaks founder appears weaker each time she visits him in prison.
She said that left and right-wing political parties, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations, journalist unions as well as the European Council demanded his freedom.
** Mr Assange spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy (Image: Getty)
She added: "This is beyond left and right. This goes to the basic, fundamental principles of our democracy."
WikiLeaks / EXPRESS