Plea for the Liberation of Julian Assange. Response from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Friends,

The plea which you kindly signed calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to use his moral influence to bring about liberation of Julian Assange from Belmarsh prison was delivered to Lambeth Palace in London last November 29. On December 12, Lambeth Palace acknowledged reception of the letter in the attached message, which appears to be addressed to all the letter’s signatories.  

Elections held that same day leave scant hope for political intervention on behalf of Julian Assange.  This enforces our belief that this issue must be urgently addressed on purely moral and humanitarian grounds.  As Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has been entrusted by the Church of England with a moral authority which we invite him to exercise.  

On behalf of the Archbishop, the Lambeth Palace Correspondence Officer Dominic Goodall writes that: “For him not to speak out about an issue does not necessarily mean that it is not of concern to him, but the context and opportunity must be right if any intervention is to be effective.”

For our part, with due respect, we believe that the Christmas season provides an eminently appropriate “context” and “opportunity” for the Christian Church of England to demonstrate human kindness by speaking out on behalf of a political prisoner who is being treated more harshly than the worst of criminals. Julian Assange is fervently admired worldwide for his courageous commitment to speaking truth. His life is at stake, and also at stake is any remnant of the United Kingdom’s reputation as land of respect for individual rights and freedoms. The world watches and cares.

Dear signatories, 

If you care to follow up with your own message to Lambeth Palace, please note the addresses on the message below from Lambeth Palace.

Sincerely,

Diana Johnstone, Paris, France, [email protected]

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Below is the message from Lambeth Palace

From: Lambeth Palace <c[email protected]>

Subject: 60053 Your letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Date: 12 December 2019 at 13:21:26 CET

To: [email protected]”, “[email protected]

Dear Ms Johnstone and Mr Müller,

Thank you for your recent letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, for and on behalf of your other signatories. Much as he would like to, the Archbishop is unable to respond personally and in detail to all the emails and letters that he receives, so I have been asked to reply to you on his behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns in this matter, which have been noted. Archbishop Justin is often asked to make statements on a wide range of issues and many people write asking him to intervene in domestic and international matters.

Letters like your own just go to show that people are seeking to respond to the current uncertainties which is a constant encouragement to Archbishop Justin. He is grateful to you for writing and hopes that you will understand that it must be for him to decide when and about what subjects he raises in public. For him not to speak out about an issue does not necessarily mean that it is not of concern to him, but the context and opportunity must be right if any intervention is to be effective.

Nevertheless, thank you again for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely,

Dominic Goodall

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Reply to Lambeth Palace, 15 December 2019

Dear Mr Goodall,

Thank you for your reply to our recent letter[1] concerning Julian Assange. From your opening paragraph we assume that Archbishop Welby has read our letter, and we are passing your response on to the signatories of our letter.

Dear Archbishop Justin Welby,

The time to speak out about the treatment of Julian Assange by the British and the US Authorities seems quite urgently to be now. His health is deteriorating, as outlined in a recent open letter by 60 medical Doctors.[2]  On Friday 13 December, there was another technical hearing of the case, where it transpired that Julian Assange has not even been able to read key evidence against him in the case that has been prepared against him by the US for nearly ten years.  His court hearing is in just over two months. Such treatment goes contrary to the tradition of English rights initiated by the Magna Carta over 800 years ago.

Moreover, the result of the recent general election means that there will be a government with a huge majority including numerous Members who have publicly prejudiced Mr. Assange. There is no mercy to be expected from political authorities. This situation increases the urgency of calling on you to act as a higher moral authority. We ask you to share these thoughts with Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II.

It takes a high degree of courage to go against the mood of one’s own milieu.  But those who dare speak out in favour of the victim of a lynch mob gain a place of honour in history.  When the writer Emile Zola spoke out in defence of Captain Dreyfus, he was forced to seek asylum in London, but a century later his example is remembered as a shining beacon in the whole affair. You have shown that you are not shy to speak up on current affairs, when you spoke out on behalf of Britain’s Jews.

We are writing these lines from human beings to human beings on behalf of another human being in dire distress.

Whatever mistakes he may have made, like any human being, Julian Assange is fervently admired worldwide for his courageous commitment to speaking truth. His life is at stake, and also at stake is the United Kingdom’s reputation as land of respect for individual rights and freedoms. The world watches and cares.History will take note of what is done now.

Yours sincerely,

Moritz Müller, Skibbereen, Republic of Ireland. [email protected]

Diana Johnstone, Paris, France. [email protected]

Notes

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88Kzf9ivQSQ&feature=youtu.be

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/nov/25/julian-assanges-health-is-so-bad-he-could-die-in-prison-say-60-doctors

You can read the plea here.

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Featured image: Julian Assange court sketch, October 21, 2019, supplied by Julia Quenzler.


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Articles by: Diana Johnstone

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