WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wrote a letter to King Charles III on Friday, calling on the monarch to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh and observe the “world class” conditions within its walls.
Writing in sarcastic and florid language, Assange described the maximum security lockup as being “just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich,” telling the King that it must be “delightful” to have “such an esteemed establishment bear your name.”
“As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution,” Assange continued. “Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.”
The jailed journalist described the “culinary delights” served to inmates alone in their cells, the prisoners’ recreational use of prescription drugs, the prohibition on the playing of chess for “healthcare” reasons, rodent infestations, and the suicide of one of his friends – a gay man who hung himself before his deportation to Brazil.
“I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king,” Assange’s letter concluded. “As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of B
Assange was arrested by British authorities in 2019, after Ecuador revoked his asylum status and allowed police officers to remove him from the country’s embassy in London, where he had been sheltered since 2012. On the day of his arrest, the US Department of Justice unsealed a multi-count indictment against Assange, slapping him with 17 charges under the Espionage Act, which can potentially carry the death penalty.
Assange is currently fighting an extradition request from Washington, and his lawyers have appealed a prior ruling authorizing extradition, on the grounds of his declining health.
The charges against Assange stemmed from his communications with whistleblowers, most importantly Chelsea Manning, who in 2010 gave WikiLeaks classified materials alleging US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although Assange did not personally hack these materials, he was still charged for his role in publishing them.
News outlets, celebrities, free speech activists, and some US and international politicians have all called on US President Joe Biden to drop the charges against Assange.