Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson made a visit to London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison on Thursday to visit Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as revealed in a post on X (formerly Twitter) later that day. Carlson’s post included a photo of himself walking with Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, which received positive reactions from activists who have collaborated with Wikileaks in the past, including Mega founder Kim Dotcom and former British MP George Galloway.
While the nature of Carlson’s visit was not explicitly stated, media commentators suggested that it was an interview for his popular self-titled show on X. Carlson had previously interviewed Assange’s father and brother for a Fox News segment in 2021 and again earlier this year.
Carlson has been a vocal critic of Assange’s continued incarceration, viewing it as a violation of his First Amendment rights. He believes that Assange’s case sets a dangerous precedent for journalists and publishers who work with classified material. Assange has appealed his pending extradition to the US, where he faces charges of violating the Espionage Act and could potentially receive a prison sentence of up to 175 years. These charges stem from the publication of secret documents by Wikileaks in 2010, leaked by US Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, which revealed information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange has been imprisoned in Belmarsh since 2019 when he was expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had sought refuge for seven years. He was granted political asylum and later Ecuadorian citizenship, but both were revoked prior to his arrest.
In August, Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Australia, hinted that the US might consider a plea deal for Assange that would allow him to return to Australia if he pleaded guilty to lesser charges. However, legal experts have noted that such a deal would likely require Assange to travel to the US for a formal admission of guilt, a condition that he is unlikely to accept.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also shown no indication of relenting in the pursuit of Assange, rejecting overtures from Canberra and asserting that Assange’s actions have put national security at risk and endangered human sources. Despite this, members of Congress from both parties have appealed to President Joe Biden’s administration to drop the extradition request and abandon the prosecution of Assange.
The visit by Tucker Carlson to Belmarsh Prison highlights the ongoing support and attention that Assange’s case continues to receive, both from activists and media figures. The outcome of his final appeal and potential extradition to the US will have significant implications for press freedom and the future of journalism.