By Tyler MacDonald
Award-winning director, producer, and screenwriter Oliver Stone took to Twitter on Tuesday to express his support for Julian Assange. The controversial journalist and activist is currently incarcerated in London, England, for his role in leaking classified United States intelligence and awaiting a decision on his possible extradition to America, which is expected on January 4, 2021.
“I’m #JulianAssange because I could be next, and you could too. Do you want your #Government telling journalists anywhere in the world what they can and can’t publish?” Stone tweeted.
“What good is the #FirstAmendment if the #Government decides when it applies and when it doesn’t? Stand with #JulianAssange now as he stands up for the rights of reporters and publishers everywhere.”
Stone is a longtime supporter of Assange. As reported by The Guardian, the director met the WikiLeaks founder in 2013 while he was living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which offered him asylum.
“Julian Assange did much for free speech and is now being victimized by the abusers of that concept,” Stone tweeted after the visit.
The Platoon director also took aim at films that he believed did not paint Assange in a positive light, including Alex Gibney’s documentary We Steal Secrets and Bill Condon’s drama The Fifth Estate. Stone would later go on to direct Snowden — a film spotlighting American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked classified National Security Agency intelligence.
According to Al Jazeera, Assange has received support from various celebrities and world leaders outside of Stone.
Per Al Jazeera, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser announced in London’s Central Criminal Court last month that a decision on Assange’s extradition is coming early next month. He has been charged under the United States 1917 Espionage Act, which marks the first time in American history that publishing information will be charged under the legislation.
According to Assange’s lawyers, the case is politically motivated and thus will not receive a fair trial in the U.S.
Al Jazeera noted that the January 4 ruling would not necessarily mean the case is concluded as the losing team is likely to appeal the decision.
During an extradition hearing, lawyer and historian Carey Shenkman noted that Donald Trump’s administration had prosecuted national security leaks under the Espionage Act more aggressively than any other president in U.S. history. Prior to Trump, Barack Obama’s administration was also known for its prolific use of the legislation.
Amnesty International human rights expert Julia Hall previously sounded the alarm on the case against Assange for various disturbing precedents. Hall noted that Assange is imprisoned in a facility typically used for seasoned criminals. She also claimed that he is at the mercy of a purported strategy to cut him off from his family, friends, and legal team that appears to have taken a physical and emotional toll on him.