Pamela Anderson has defended Julian Assange, calling the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief "a true hero" for leaking thousands of confidential government documents.

The Australian computer programmer remains a fugitive at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he claimed diplomatic asylum in 2012 after being placed under arrest in absentia by Swedish authorities over four alleged rape and sexual assault offences.

However, Assange has never been formally charged by Swedish authorities. All counts, except for the rape case, expired in 2015, and the rape charge will also be dissolved if the case is not heard by 2020.

Earlier this year, the UN described Assange as being arbitrarily detained by British and Swedish authorities.

Describing Assange as a "political prisoner" for leaking the corrupt inner-workings of the US government and its allies, the 49-year-old former Baywatch star said the laws in place to protect him "were not being applied".

"He still cannot leave the Embassy of Ecuador in London while elaborate plots against him and made up sexual allegations could result in him being extradited to the US — where he would not be treated fairly — because of his exposure of truths," she said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.

WikiLeaks played a visible role in this year's US election, exposing Democratic National Convention (DNC) emails that revealed impartiality in favour of Hillary Clinton in her battle with Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

"He is a hero," Anderson said of Assange. "One day everyone will realise. But until now, this man has missed seven Christmases with his children and is kept in difficult and tremendously stressful conditions — while doing us all a great service. Everyone in the world has benefited because of WikiLeaks — he has sacrificed so much — to simply share the truth."

The organisation has been under the spotlight for its decision to release private emails between Hillary Clinton, Campaign Chairman John Podesta and her team, with President Obama launching an investigation into potential Russian involvement.

Anderson ended the note by calling for wider protection for whistleblowers: "He should be pardoned and protected when set free. Along with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning."

Snowden leaked top secret NSA documents that laid bare the extent of domestic surveillance by Western superpowers, while Manning is two years into her 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth military prison for supplying 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. She has twice attempted suicide while incarcerated.