Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the French Leftist politician leading an alliance set to make major gains in the parliamentary elections, pledged to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange French nationality if his coalition clinches a majority on Sunday.
Mr Assange is wanted in the US for allegedly violating the Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic files in 2010, and could face up to 175 years in jail if found guilty, according to some estimates.
Ahead of voting on Sunday, Mr Mélenchon was asked about Mr Assange’s extradition to the US, which Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, approved on Friday to the dismay of his supporters and free-press campaigners.
“If I am prime minister on Monday, Mr Julian Assange – I believe he has already asked for it – will be naturalised as French and we will ask for him to be sent to us,” Mr Mélenchon told reporters.
“Mr Assange should be honoured for all his services to French people,” he added.
Mr Mélenchon’s Left-Green coalition – the New Popular, Environmental and Social Union (NUPES) – is hoping for a majority after Sunday’s vote, which could lead to the 70-year-old ex-Trotskyist being named prime minister.
However, polls suggest that Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble (“Together”) coalition is likely to emerge as the largest group, but may fall short of an absolute majority – a rarity even in French politics for a group backing a newly-elected head-of-state.
Photo – Jean-Luc Melenchon leader of the ‘NUPES’ (Nouvelle Union Populaire Ecologique et Sociale) a coalition of Leftist and Ecologist parties. The second phase of the legislative elections in France will be held on 19 June 2022 to elect the 577 members for the National Assembly of the French Republic. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
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