Francis the First thought of the WikiLeaks publisher languishing in his cell on Palm Sunday and should consider sending a second message, writes Elizabeth Vos.
By Elizabeth Vos
Special to Consortium News
Pope Francis delivered a message of support last Sunday to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange after a hard night in Belmarsh prison, according to a statement tweeted by Assange’s partner Stella Moris.
After a hard night, Julian woke up this morning to a kind, personal message from Pope Francis @pontifex delivered to his cell door by the prison priest.
— Stella Moris #DropTheCharges (@StellaMoris1) March 28, 2021
The Pope’s message was sent on Palm Sunday, the Christian celebration of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, which takes place a week before Easter.
Moris did not disclose the content of the Pontiff’s message. The Vatican considers such missives private and will not confirm or deny their existence, according to Rome Reports. Pope Francis reportedly sent a similar message to imprisoned former President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, in 2018.
During the extradition hearing, the court heard that Assange had been in contact with the Samaritans, a suicide prevention organization begun by a vicar, and had been given absolution from a Catholic priest in preparation for his death.
Assange remains imprisoned in HMP Belmarsh in London despite the case for his extradition to the United States having been denied in January on grounds that he was at high risk of taking his life. Judge Vanessa Baraitser then refused the journalist bail while the U.S. under the Donald Trump administration appealed Baraitser’s decision. The appeal was continued by the incoming Joe Biden administration earlier this year.
Biden, a practicing Catholic, had previously said the WikiLeaks founder was more like a “high-tech terrorist” than a teller of truth.
As a member of his flock, the Pope should consider delivering an Easter message this Sunday to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Biden needs to hear from the leader of his faith that he should allow Assange to be reunited with Moris and their two children and that he has suffered enough for fulfiling his duty as a journalist to tell the truth.
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?,” Paul wrote in Galatians 4:16.
The Pope might also quote to Biden Proverbs 12:19: “The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
If extradited, Assange faces up to 175 years in solitary confinement in an American dungeon on charges stemming from WikiLeaks’ revelation of classified material including evidence of war crimes committed by the United States.
Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter and co-host of CN Live.