martes, noviembre 20, 2018

Julian Assange, The Apostol Paul’s figure?

Published on: RYPC Translations | Cite as

Julian Assange, The Apostol Paul’s figure?

Assange on balcony of Ecuadorian embassy in London
César Navarro

A judicial, political, religious and journalistic reading of Acts. 22-23

“Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, and our law, and this place” Acts 21:28

Who has not heard nowadays about Julian Assange’s figure, who became a very famous character for his intrepid deeds as a spreader of information through the internet. And we know that information is related with at least two things: freedom and power!

Julian Paul Assange was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1971. Assange won the Amnesty International UK Media Award in 2009, for disclosing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya with his research “the Cry of Blood”1. In 2006, Assange founded WikiLeaks, a nonprofit organization to release important news and information to the public based on true stories, valuable for everyone, unknown thus far2. Assange has been one of the leaders of this organization for the divulgation of news through diverse communication media. On April 5th, 2010, Wikileaks published a video recorded on July 12th, 2007, in which the United States Army killed eleven Iraqis, among which there were a photographer and a driver who worked for the Reuters news agency.3

On October 22nd, 2010, he published Iraq War Logs4, which is a collection of 391,832 field reports of the United States Army during the Iraq War, where they show systematic tortures, the number of 109,032 casualties in Iraq, 66,081 of which were civilians (63%); 23,984 enemies, labelled as “insurgents”; 15,196 of the host country (forces of the Iraqi government), and 3,771 were dead “friends” (forces of the coalition). On November 28th, 2010, Wikileaks filtered to the international press a collection of 250,000 communications sent from the Central Administration of United States (Department of State, Department of Defense, etc.) to their diplomatic representations throughout the world; the other way around, from these delegations towards Washington; messages shared between different United States Embassies, and also between legates of that country and missions abroad. The New York times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le monde and El País have had special access to those communications and they simultaneously publish its content.5

Behind all this is Julian Assange, a person with outstanding abilities in IT, but also having knowledge in natural sciences, physics, philosophy, and mathematics6. Assange defends a transparent and scientific approach to the journalistic career, by saying that an article on physics cannot be published without the complete experimental information, as well as the results7.

Julian Assange has two arrest warrants in Sweden for supposed rape crimes, in the case of Anna Ardin, and of sexual harassment, in the case of Sofia Wilen. After fleeing the country, the Swedish police asked for the intervention of INTERPOL. After being in England for a while, where he was sentenced to house arrest, Assange went to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and asked for political asylum. Ecuador accepted Assange´s request, fearing that if he is extradited to Sweden, he might later be extradited to the U.S.A and suffer a violation of human rights, and even be sentenced to death penalty. In addition, the United Kingdom refuses to give the infamous Assange any safe-passage that can lead him out of the country, and it even pressures Ecuador to free him through threats of coming into the embassy and thus violating the international treaties, with the justification that they want to enforce justice.

Ecuador, along with other brethren Latin American countries, as well as Julian Assange, point out that they are not opposing justice or a trial, but they defend the idea that Assange deserves to be tried in a place where he can have a true and just trial. For them, it would definitely have to be in a place outside the government of the U.S.

Julian´s case made me remember Paul the Apostle and the persecution he suffered by the Jews. Even though the reasons were different, there are certain connections between both characters:

  • Both were persecuted because of hope. Paul was tried for his hope in resurrection (Acts 26:6) Assange for his hope in freedom of speech.

  • Both were accused and persecuted for teaching and exposing things that went against the maximum authorities and their actions. In Paul´s case, religious authorities (Acts 21:28); in Assange´s case, political authorities.

  • Both suffered house arrest due to a persecution. (Acts 28:16)

  • Paul’s life was threatened by religious people because he preached what he believed to be the true religion of freedom and justice (Acts 21:30-31). Assange considers himself to be in danger of being killed because he revealed confidential information, which he believes to be the true freedom of speech and justice.

  • Opinions are divided between the international representatives of the countries involved that want Assange to be extradited, and those who wish that he can get to Ecuador safely. Regarding Paul, the multitudes that accused him (and perhaps those who defended him), did not agree either. (Acts 21:34)

  • Paul was in a place called the “Fortress” until things were cleared out. (Acts 21:37). Assange is secluded in the Ecuadorian embassy, which is measuring its strength against the pressure of the UK.

  • Paul gave his speech freely to the people from the Fortress, due to his situation, and explained why he was persecuted for a just cause. (Acts 21:37-22-21). On August 19 of the current year (2016) Assange gave a conference from the Ecuadorian embassy regarding his cause.

  • Paul was whipped by the Roman Jury, to discover which was the cause that made those people want to kill him, and it seemed incredible that it was due to religious reasons (Acts 22:24) Assange´s defenders believe that his persecution is for political motives and deem it impossible that Assange is actually doing something illegal.

  • Paul appeals to the right not to be whipped without reasons within the Fortress, by confirming to be a Roman citizen (Acts 22:26). Ecuador and Assange appeal to the rights established in international treaties, to the respect owed to the political asylum and the autonomy of embassies, against UK’s pressure of forcing the entry.

  • Paul uses the religious information wisely to bring about reflection and confrontation, thus making that religious parties discuss among themselves about any just reason for his guiltiness (Acts 23:6-9). Assange has done the same thing by making the different governments that are involved to discuss if there is any valid reason for his extradition and trial, polarizing the governments that have different opinions about Assange’s matter.

  • Some influential Jews were conspiring against Paul. They were hoping to make the Tribune believe, who held him in custody, and certainly protected him from death, to bring him before them for a routine or general trial (legal and possible), where he would be investigated for certain things, but with the intention of setting him up and killing him (Acts 22:12-15) Hence, they went where the principals and the elders were, and manipulated and appealed to their political and religious influences to achieve their plan. With the intervention of a council they could ask the Roman Tribune for Paul, to simulate a trial, which was absolutely fair, but that was evil at heart. Assange believes, along with all his supporters, that his extradition to Sweden for the trial which corresponds to him for breaking the law is just a staging for his extradition to the United States and the risk of being killed, or that his fundamental human rights be violated.

  • Like a divine thing, Paul´s nephew discovers a religious plot and warns the Tribune so that he does not believe about the trial the Jews want to make against Paul (Acts 23:19-21). Ecuador and the countries supporting Assange do not believe that the UK’s intentions are to extradite Assange to Sweden; instead, everyone believes it is a political plot to violate Assange´s rights.

  • The Tribune granted a “safe-passage” for Paul to go to other place (with Felix, the governor), because, where he was located, he was not safe (Acts 23:23-25). The Tribune’s intention was not only to save Paul´s life, he is also making himself sure that any legal and final result regarding Paul´s deeds will take place in a safe environment and sufficiently fair, so that Paul’s rights as a Roman citizen not be violated. Assange and the Ecuadorian embassy request a safe-passage for Assange to get to Ecuador, since in England he is at risk. As the Ecuadorian government and its allies consistently affirm, as well as Assange itself, his intention is not to avoid Swedish authorities, nor the trial he must face for the charges against him in Sweden. The point is to look for the necessary means and spaces so that his rights not to be violated, and he can have a fair and due process. For Assange and his supporters, the UK and even Sweden will not provide him a fair process, because they may be working as puppets for the interests of the U.S to destroy Assange.

I have not commented on chapter 24 for the reader to use his/her imagination, or, if preferred, predict some closure in the interesting case of Assange-Paul. In my opinion, considering the connections I have tried to do, I would like to leave you some impressions of what this case represents from a Lucan perspective.

The events regarding the reveal of information and the trials around it must always be fair, and if there are acts of conspiracy and law violations, for any reason, the people at risk must opt for the existing legal paths, which will prevent their rights from being violated. It does not matter if the person is even willing to die, like Paul the Apostle (Acts 21:13).

I do not pretend to say that the book of Acts is a book from which we can obtain universal doctrines. Even more so when we know that it is a descriptive book about the happenings and it was not written with the intention of specifying the doctrines that the church should follow. However, even though it is descriptive, it does not mean that one cannot obtain valuable teachings and lessons.

Luke, as a good researcher about facts in the exact way they occurred, also writes the information he believes to be more valuable for his readers, and composed in a particular manner. In this case, even though Assange may believe that the story that has been told is 100% objective, the truth is, whether you like it or not, the people in charge of revealing information will do it in the order and with the emphasis they are more inclined towards. Nevertheless, Luke is well known for being an objective researcher. Luckily for us, in the case of the Bible, the fact that any story of the happenings is presented with certain kind of information, and in certain order, it allows us to see the Lord´s intentions in this story. So those intentions may be used to learn from the biblical teachings.

This story remarks the evil of mankind behind the rights and the legislature. How can the rights and the legislature become a torture to some and comfort to others? How can the political and religious forces have hidden agendas of destruction through treaties, appeals, enacted law and concessions?

Accordingly, in Paul´s strange case, the highlighted fact is that the hidden and evil plans should come out to the light somehow. In this case, our hero was a young man who hacked the information of the Jew thugs (the seed of WikiLeaks in the Bible?) and revealed it for the good of those (Paul, the Tribune and the entire Rome) who were victims of those perverted actions. Definitely, this act is important for Luke’s account in light of his narration of the book of Acts. The reveal and exhibition of hidden plans.

Even knowing how stubborn Paul was, in doing things like going to Jerusalem, even though he knew that there was a premonition of him being imprisoned, for me, what’s interesting about the story to remark is that all the things that happen are a means for Paul to say what he thinks is true. Paul does not hesitate in risking himself to divulge the true hope based on Christ. This is a constant thing in the history of humanity when it comes to show what one believes to be true, and it has consequences for all society: there are always dangers with the opposing groups. So Assange´s case is not new, regarding the divulgation of information that “frees” us and makes us see the whole picture. All this has brought consequences to him that, I believe, he is happy to suffer, and even more, I think that each of these risky situations help his ideas to move forward a bit further. In Paul´s case, this event, even though it was dangerous, it took him to Rome, which would be his last stop. We do not know yet where will Assange end up, but it is a sure thing that his ideas have moved forward with every scandal.

Despite the dangerous situations, we can still see the positive and useful aspect of using the security channels in favor of the people who promote some truth that is valuable for the society. In Paul´s case, the Tribune exhausted all the resources to keep him safe, giving him the opportunity of not being subject to an evident abuse. Defending his rights as a Roman citizen, even when they did not know what was happening, and allowing a safe passage for Paul to have a more appropriate trial, is a significant part of the story, about which Luke takes a great amount of words to tell it. Justice, the rights and protection of an individual must be enforced by all possible means, and by looking for the best place for them to be applied in the best way. I think that the actions of Ecuador and the other allied countries are completely appropriate in this case. Assange is at risk, and it is a perception that appeals to the consciousness of the governors that support. Evidently, this perception is not disregarding any injustice the journalist may have done, but made with the sufficient ignorance (just like the Tribune) and enough suspicion to know that the best thing for Assange´s trial is to be in intermediate, more appropriate and fair places.

It is quite evident that this story has many differences, which the reader will find out. What I wanted to point out were the connections that I found (which can also be seen as contrasts) and to recognize God in Paul´s story, as well as in Assange´s story, and what could be remarked, as the way in which God sees these situations. Perhaps, and only if my comparisons are true, in the midst of what Assange´s family and he himself is going through, a voice of comfort and stimulus has spoken to him at night saying (Acts 23:11):

“Be of good cheer, Julian: for as thou hast testified of me in UK, so must thou bear witness also at Latin America”.

This article was translated by Alfredo Francis and reviewed by Nicolás Manfredi, under the grant “God's Evolution” awarded to the Science and Faith Centre (Spain) by the BioLogos Foundation (USA).

  1. [RYPC edition: The original link is broken. We suggest the archives of the news published by Amnesty International UK, and the document of the research]
  4. The colection covers data from January 1st, 2004 until December, 31st, 2009.
  6. Heinz Duthel, Julian Assange: El ilusionista, 7.
  7. Taft Johnson, Julian Assange: the Controversial Figure behind Wikilieaks, 4.

Cite as (ISO 690:2010): NAVARRO, César. Julian Assange, The Apostol Paul’s figure? [online]. RYPC Translations, 20 November 2018. <> [accessed: ].