[Former Playboy model and TV star Pamela Anderson has taken on a much more cutting-edge role these days, as both a human rights and animal rights defender and activist. According to its multimedia website, The Pamela Anderson Foundation (PAF) “supports organizations and individuals that stand on the front lines in the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights. By funding the efforts of those who inform and defend the planet and all who live within it, the PAF is an agent of change and an advocate for justice.”
According to Anderson, the defense and freeing of her “good friend” Julian Assange fits squarely under the human rights mandate of her foundation, and she has thrown down the gauntlet in the fight to free Assange. She is mindful that “if Assange is extradited to the U.S. to stand trial” her friend could spend the rest of his life behind bars in a U.S. prison. “We can’t let that happen,” she says.
Anderson, who recently visited with Assange in Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison on the outskirts of London, said that he was not doing well physically, as he is locked down 23 hours a day. She also emphasized that prison officials are not doing anything to make it any easier. Anderson was warned by a prison official, just before the end of her visit with Assange, to keep a low profile or her friend will suffer the consequences. “He point-blank said to me: ‘If you make it difficult for me, I will make it difficult for your friend.’”
Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico spoke with Pamela Anderson on June 19th, just days after she visited with her friend and Wikileaks founder at the Belmarsh maximum-security prison.—Editors]
Randy Credico: Welcome Pamela Anderson. It’s been two years since you were last on the Free Assange Series with me and Dennis. When we talked back then, you brought in something that most people [were unaware of]—with the exception of his mother: the real, human side of Julian Assange. People know a little about the political side, but not much about the human side of Assange. I saw a statement you made in 2016 that he was a hero of yours. When did you first take interest; what sparked your interest in the persecution of Julie Assange?
Pamela Anderson: Well, first of all thank you for having me on and thank you both for all of your hard work and dedication to Julian, too, and as you said two years ago we spoke—it’s gone by pretty fast for us and probably very slowly for Julian.
I met him through Vivian Westwood and I just wanted to meet him, I had heard about him and obviously thought he was a hero back then. And when I met him, he—…I really wanted to learn from him and to find out how to be a better activist, how to use my platform for, you know, something more—and people might not believe this—something more intellectual. Something more meaningful than what I was doing because I have a lot of empathy for many causes and a lot of causes that I fight for, but I really do believe that Julian is number one, especially right now. He is the most important person we need to fight for right now.
Yes, I’ve spoken to his mother. I’ve spoken to people that care about him. I became friends with him over time and it really bothers me when people say he’s a narcissist or he’s, you know…I was raised by eccentric kind of people. My father’s a genius, and there are all sorts of people in my family that are a little bit, maybe, not socially the way people would want people to be. But he’s definitely not a narcissist—he actually made me feel smarter, more important, and was really valuing the work that I was doing more than anybody.
He made me feel completely at ease, completely challenged, and really believed in me and so this is—all this smear campaign drives me crazy because people don’t know him and this is why I keep encouraging people to listen to his speeches, listen to him, the best person to speak for him is him, and this is what we’re missing now.
It’s devastating because he is a human being and this is—obviously he is a human being—but people think he’s a robot, he’s a computer screen, he’s a, you know, menace to society. Why? Because he might be a menace to people that are a menace to society, that’s about it.
Randy Credico: You know, Pam, when I finally got to visit Julian in the embassy, I knew the political side, I knew him by the phone, I knew all the work that he had done, but when I got to know him, I really came love this guy. I mean, he had such a great—and he still does, I hope—has a great sense of humor. We talked about a lot of things, but we didn’t talk about politics. We talked about how much he missed his dogs. He missed his family and then his dogs. He has Blue Heelers, so we talked about Blue Heelers. That aspect about Julian Assange, that human side, that sense of humor and his love of animals—was it your influence? I think it’s probably always been there.
Pamela Anderson: I don’t know, it’s always been there, I think. And I got a smile out of him when I visited him in prison, so that was an accomplishment! His testament to the human spirit is amazing. He’s fun, he’s funny, he’s just been like this since he was a little boy. His mother has even said: ‘He wants justice and he wants to use everything he can to give people more information so they can make better choices.’
Credico:Why do you think Julian has so little support in Hollywood?
Anderson:It’s bizarre to me—even in Hollywood—that people don’t support him. And where’s George Clooney? Where is Amal Clooney? You know, these people—I know George, and I have a feeling that people put their careers before something even as important as this. So even Richard Branson, I just read something [about how] he gave all that money to Venezuela in the wrong way, on the wrong side, whatever you want to call it. He could be influential [in freeing Julian]…I’m just going to do all that I can to help him.
Randy Credico: You’ve done an incredible job, you have.
Pamela Anderson: Thank you.
Dennis Bernstein: I want to talk to you a little bit more about how Julian is, what was your initial response to see him dragged out and brutalized the way he was? And what can you tell us about how he’s doing, have you spoken with him, visited with him—could you lay that out, take some time and give us that background, please?
Pamela Anderson: Well, actually I was in the South of France, and I saw the news and I was in complete shock when I saw him being pulled out of the embassy. Just to see that this man has been in a little room for seven years and to be pulled out so violently out of the building and even laughed at by the police. I could see the shock in his eyes, I could see that just being dragged out into the light, you know, out of a cave pretty much, even though he’s tried to have the light mimic the sunrise and everyone’s tried everything, vitamin D, everything else. I could see he was nervous and scared to go right into all that moving traffic and into a car that’s going to be moving.
Can you imagine sitting still for seven years and really just walking in circles in a small space. So, I was really disturbed by that, I was horrified.
But then I saw that he was clear, you know, I saw in his eyes when he was in the car and, you know, raised his fist I could see, okay, he knew this was coming. He knew this was coming eventually. He told me every single thing that was going to happen as it happened and before it happened. So, he was aware that if he was going to step—that if they were going to drag him out of the embassy he was going to go to jail, they were going to extradite him, and we have to do everything to stop that.
Then, he wanted to see me, so I went to go see him in prison. That was crazy to go to a Supermax prison—this man has never committed a violent act, he’s not a threat to anybody except for his exposing truths of people that are dangerous people. So, it was going to five different checkpoints, fingerprinted, frisked up and down by different people—it was a little bit intimidating and I was already a little nervous when I got there, and we had a little interrogation room with microphones taped down on the desk and a camera right over our heads.
And he came in wearing two pairs of sweatpants, two sweatshirts, and I knew that he was trying to look better than he was. He was clean-shaven but he was trying to look like bigger, kind of stronger because he was emaciated, really. He was a lot thinner than when I last saw him, but he was almost putting on a brave face for us.
And it was really hard, really hard, to see him this way and the warden that came in at the very end—he was not happy because there were camera crews outside of the prison—and he point-blank said to me: “If you make this difficult for me, I’ll make it difficult for your friend.” That was unsettling, about two minutes before we had to leave him, and he just looked right at me and looked right at Kristin [Hrafnsson] and said, “What just happened?”, and then they dragged him off.
Dennis Bernstein: “If you make it difficult for me, I will make it difficult for him.” Say a little bit more about that. I guess you see that as a direct threat to his life?
Pamela Anderson: I don’t know but—just his conditions, you know, everything is strange in prison, and you don’t want to…and they were very clear in that moment to say don’t, basically—it’s like they said, “He’s lucky he’s here. He’s lucky he’s here.” And it was the camera crews—I didn’t have anything to do with the camera crews and you can’t control who comes to the prison, you know, but, it wasn’t me, you know, this was just—there they’re all the time.
But yeah, it was disturbing because he already only has so much money per week, and he has to buy everything, and he was still trying to get the lay of the land. He couldn’t get to the library, can’t use a computer. You can write him, but you have to put the birthdate and your birthdate and there are so many things you have to do, which makes very little get through, and you know they’d already done many intimidating things already. So, I haven’t—I’m going to go see him again but I’m very concerned about the way he’s being treated.
And Nils [Melzer] is fantastic, the Rapporteur that went in to visit him. I’ve been in touch with him and he really stated everything pretty clearly: the psychological torture, the combination of all these years, and just seeing this more and more and more and while he’s there he can’t prepare for his defense, he doesn’t have the time with the materials, they can’t get it to him. You have to put things in the post.
He only has a few hours a month with his lawyers. He has a massive case against him, in multiple countries. They’re just trying to break him down, break him, destroy him, and there was that little leaked video that I saw of him, you know, just patiently listening to someone ramble on to him in a line to get food or something, when he was in prison, and it just shows you he’s very curious about other people’s fights; other people.
You could still tell that he was very thin but listening attentively. I know we just have to—if anybody can do it, Julian can. He’s the strongest person I know, and so he was kind of prepared that he would go to jail and—but, he will not be extradited, I know that. What he told me when I left, he said “Pamela save my life.” That was pretty—
Dennis Bernstein: Yeah, that’s not—now were you allowed to hug hello? Was there any touch allowed?
Pamela Anderson: Well, when he walked in the door, I ran to him and hugged him and he picked me off the ground and smiled right at me and then we were told to sit down, don’t do that again.
Dennis Bernstein: So, no touching allowed in prison?
Pamela Anderson: Well the thing is, because I think, I don’t know if it was because I was there, they pulled us off into a little tiny room and the guards kept coming in and out to get something and hover over us and the three of us were sitting there very, very close trying to talk and so I don’t know about his other visits, if they are, were, the same or if he was at a table with somebody or through glass or whatever, but this is when I met him….that’s okay.
Dennis Bernstein: And why do you think you think they put the whole national security state of the U.S. and Great Britain against Julian Assange, against this one person? What do you think is at the core here, what are they afraid of, do you suppose?
Pamela Anderson: Well, they’re making an example of him and they don’t want anything else to come out, they don’t want other whistleblowers to divulge information. I mean, it’s a really scary time. America has a lot of skeletons in their closet and the government right now is already—look at what they’re doing with Iran and all sorts of places. It’s a dirty business and they don’t need someone like Julian, or, as a publisher creating a space for people to divulge the truth, or to educate the American people or the people of the world about what is really happening.
Dennis Bernstein: You’re listening to a special edition of Flashpoints. We call this series “Julian Assange: Countdown to Freedom.” It’s a collaboration between Flashpoints on Pacifica radio here in the Bay area and Randy Credico’s “Live on the Fly.” Randy is joining us today from New York City. Randy—
Randy Credico: Pamela Anderson, you are on Twitter at @PamFoundation and your website is PamelaAndersonFoundation.org. I suggest people go there. Getting back to Julian in Belmarsh. I would expect a lot of people are writing him. Is that important to him to get letters from people?
Pamela Anderson: Yes, he’s very, very happy about that. He’s in his cell 23 hours a day, if you can imagine. Now supposedly the door is open four hours but I’m not sure how much [time] he actually gets to come out of his cell, but its unlocked for 4 hours. I’m not exactly sure what that means but he has a lot of time—and he has to buy paper, he has to buy a pen, he has to buy a stamp and he only has limited resources and he can’t take money in there. Obviously he has to get a job in prison if he wants to make more money to write people. If he sends you a letter, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.
Randy Credico: It’s good to have the human touch. His father was recently there to visit him. His mother cannot. I spoke to his mother recently, Christine Assange; she’s got a lot of problems back home and I know this is really weighing in on her, and she’s been fighting and fighting and fighting for years. She’s been on this show five or six times with Dennis and me, you’ve been there many times. You know, when we started this show—it was 2.5 years ago practically—I thought at this point he would be out. But we’re going to continue this until we can’t—until we’re dead. We’re not stopping. What can people do, do you think, besides writing letters, you know, to help out at this point? We’re doing it from the airwaves. You’re a globetrotting activist for him and you’ve done a sensational job. What is your advice to other people out there?
Pamela Anderson: You have to get out on the streets, you have to cause a scene. You have to be there for him outside the prison—I shouldn’t say that, but outside, wherever you can…I know it’s a complicated issue, and it’s very complex, and you should go to WikiLeaks and follow the great people that support Julian that are intellectuals, and you can really, piece by piece by piece, look at everything and educate yourself.
And, he’s resilient, he’s not a weak person, he’s resilient. If we fight for him, we can get him out and he can thrive and survive and do the work he’s meant to do. Of course, he’s locked away, of course he’s sick, but he’s not sickly, he’s not weak. He’s very strong, he’s resilient and any little ounce that you give him whether it’s a letter or if it’s a protest or just speaking to anybody, writing to your government, writing to whoever you can, you know, putting pressure on people like Amal Clooney, who should be fighting for him right now.
Doing that kind of thing, it just lifts his spirits and keeps him alive. And the more he’s in the public, the more he’s safe. The more he’s on the lips of the public the more he’s safe. We have to keep talking about him and not forget about him just because it’s—sometimes when things are so complicated, we don’t want to think about it and we think, “Oh you know what,”—when I read some people on twitter who say “You know, he broke the law,” or “he’s this or he’s that,” you know, “he deserves this,” it’s just so complex and people are fed so much information that we need to feed it back. We need to change the narrative to the truth.
Dennis Bernstein: There’s one other avenue that I want to go down with you, Pamela Anderson. It was a shocking sight to me to see that Chelsea Manning has now gone to jail a second time [after her refusal to testify against Assange about her collaboration with Wikileaks]. She was initially thrown in jail on International Women’s Day. This is somebody with more courage than I think all of us put together, who essentially became a woman while being locked down in solitary confinement, and who is back in jail again, refusing to speak to the grand jury. What’s your response to that, what does that mean to you, as a woman?
Pamela Anderson: So many things come to mind. She is such a powerful person, such a strong person and now they’re even charging her by the day that’s she’s there. It’s absolutely, it’s, it’s… What are they afraid of? This is what everyone has to see: why are they so afraid of truthful information getting out there? There must be a lot to learn. But yes, I’m very, very, very proud of her and admire her. She’s an amazing woman and to have gone through what she went through, like, even going into the services to “man up” kind of thing, and then, you know, becoming a woman and then being thrown back into jail. It’s just, it’s abuse. It’s abuse. It makes no sense.
Dennis Bernstein, I mean, one feels that if she can take a stand like this defending the First Amendment, defending the open flow of information, one would think, as you would hope, George Clooney or others who call themselves liberals or progressives need to come out and put their money or their consciousness where their beliefs are, if you will.
Pamela Anderson: Exactly, I mean everybody can do it now because now’s the time. You know, we don’t have much time. We don’t want him to be extradited so this has to—everyone needs to get it together now, there’s just, there’s no time to waste.
Dennis Bernstein: We appreciate you spending the time, Pamela Anderson. Your voice is strong in this battle to free Julian Assange and really all of us because, even while in the wake of his imprisonment we’ve now seen journalists dragged out of their offices, having their hard disks seized in Australia, in the United States, in France. This is happening all over the world and it appears that the Brits and the U.S. national security agencies are watching the response to see if they’re going to continue to try to shut down the open flow of information so we’re all concerned and we thank you for your strong voice in this battle for free speech. Final words?
Pamela Anderson: Thank you, thank you for everything. I guess I’m going to run now but thank you for everything and keep fighting.
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About the Author
Dennis J. Bernstein is an award-winning investigative reporter and member of the CovertAction Magazine (CAM) Board of Advisors. Bernstein is a veteran writer for CAM (see issues # 28, 29, 64, 73). He is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, an award-winning front-line investigative news magazine focusing on human, civil and workers’ rights, issues of war and peace, global warming, racism and poverty. Dennis also writes for Consortium News, The Progressive, and Truthout.
Randolph A. Credico is a comedian, radio host, and activist, and the former director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice. Credico currently hosts LIve On The Fly and Assange: Countdown to Freedom.