Daniel Ellsberg—who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers exposing U.S. lies and crimes in Southeast Asia—told a British court on Tuesday that the U.S. government is seeking both \u0022revenge\u0022 against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and to \u0022crush\u0022 future whistleblowers with its extradition attempt.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nEllsberg\u0026#039;s eight-page written statement (pdf) to the London court considering a U.S. request to extradite Assange was an incisive statement of support for the 49-year-old Australian, who has been jailed in the U.K. since 2019 for avoiding a 2010 international arrest warrant from Sweden for alleged sex offenses.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022Very frequently the claim for \u0026#039;national security\u0026#039; has been erected to obscure illegality and deceit, often on a major scale.\u0022\r\n—Daniel Ellsberg\r\n\r\nAssange\u0026#039;s imprisonment followed a nearly seven-year period of political asylum granted by Ecuador—which agreed he could face political persecution if extradited to Sweden or the U.S.—spent entirely in the South American nation\u0026#039;s London embassy.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nLast year, Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, repeatedly called the cumulative effects of the U.S., Britain, and Sweden \u0022ganging up\u0022 on Assange a form of \u0022psychological torture.\u0022\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nThe Trump administration last year formally requested Britain\u0026#039;s extradition of Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. U.S. authorities accuse him of conspiring to hack government computers and illegally disclosing classified and sensitive national defense information.\r\n\r\nCritics from both sides of the mainstream political aisle have called\u0026nbsp;Assange\u0026#039;s actions \u0022reckless.\u0022\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nAt the height of WikiLeaks\u0026#039; revelations, some leading Republicans and Donald Trump called for his execution.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nHowever, Ellsberg refuted claims that Assange acted in such a manner, asserting in the court statement that \u0022his approach was the exact opposite of reckless,\u0022 and that Assange would not \u0022willfully expose others to harm.\u0022\r\n\r\nEllsberg also noted that \u0022very frequently the claim for \u0026#039;national security\u0026#039; has been erected to obscure illegality and deceit, often on a major scale,\u0022 and argued that the \u0022closest similarities\u0022 between his and Assange\u0026#039;s cases include the manner in which \u0022the exposure of illegality and criminal acts institutionally and by individuals was intended to be crushed by the administration carrying out those illegalities.\u0022\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nThis, Ellsberg argued, is \u0022in part in revenge\u0022 for revealing wrongdoing, as well as an attempt \u0022to crush all such future exposure of the truth.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022I have closely observed the actions of the U.S. government, its military, and its intelligence agency the CIA, and that the actions in question were never intended to be revealed, including rendition and torture, the use of \u0026#039;black sites,\u0026#039; and crimes against humanity,\u0022 wrote Ellsberg.\r\n\r\nAmong the most important documents shared by WikiLeaks were the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs, which revealed war crimes including mass killing of civilians, extrajudicial killing, torture, corruption, and other crimes and abuses committed by U.S. and coalition forces and the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq.\r\n\r\nIn 2010 WikiLeaks also released the infamous \u0022Collateral Murder\u0022 video, which shows U.S. Army attack helicopter crews joking and laughing while massacring Iraqi civilians—including two journalists—and shooting children and first responders.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022I have also observed that those who have been party to exposing them have been and continue to be themselves threatened and criminalized,\u0022 Ellsberg added, a likely reference to other whistleblowers targeted by the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, Jeffrey Sterling, and Reality Leigh Winner.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nEllsberg was a former RAND Corporation economist who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, a series of classified documents commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara during the height of the Vietnam War. The papers detailed the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and beyond from 1945 through 1967, including the secret escalation of the war into Laos and Cambodia, and that the Johnson administration \u0022systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.\u0022\r\n\r\nLike Assange, Ellsberg was demonized in the U.S. after the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. He was criminally charged with theft and conspiracy under the Espionage Act. However, all charges against him were dismissed in 1973 and today Ellsberg is widely viewed as an iconic figure in the history of the movement for government transparency and accountability.\r\n\r\nA British judge will rule on whether Assange can be extradited to the United States. His lawyers claim he faces cruel and unusual punishment in the U.S., including a draconian 175-year sentence in notoriously harsh American prisons, where they say he risks being tortured.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nPress freedom, legal, and human rights advocates around the world have all championed Assange\u0026#039;s cause.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nThis is not the first time Ellsberg has defended Assange. Last May, he appeared on Democracy Now! and called the charges against Assange \u0022unprecedented\u0022 and a \u0022direct attack on the First Amendment.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022There hasn\u0026#039;t actually been such a significant attack on the freedom of the press...since my case in 1971,\u0022 the then-88-year-old said.