Tea for two: France’s Mélenchon pays Julian Assange a peculiar visit

When Julian Assange rapped on the door of the Ecuadorian embassy in June, he had probably packed no more than a weekend bag. Five months later and purportedly suffering a nasty lung infection, the world’s most wanted Australian is not only in need of a little vitamin D, but also lacking good company.

 

Luckily for him, France’s firebrand leftist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (pronounced Mel-on-shon) was in town on Friday, and decided to pay the ‘imprisoned’ whistle-blower a much-needed visit.

 


A fiery Marxist with a terrifying sneer, Mélenchon’s power-to-the-people rhetoric won him more than 11% of votes in the first round of May’s presidential election. Known for speaking his mind, he’s prone to spit rather than speak his words, and is likely to jab his finger at any rival, journalist or member of the public who dares cross him. So strained is his face during these impassioned and frequent outbursts, it’s a wonder his skin hasn’t hardened into a permanent grimace; an angry version of Carla Bruni’s fixed Cheshire mask.


‘Comrades’


So... not most people’s first choice for afternoon tea. But for Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for five months with a only a treadmill, a West Wing box-set, and – according to the man himself – “a racking cough”, Mélenchon’s wrinkled  mug must have been a sight for sore eyes.


The pair had never met before, and do not share a common language. Nonetheless, they are not quite strangers. In fact, they have ‘performed’ together before.


In August of this year, Mélenchon spoilt his new friend with an exceptional gift. Speaking at the Parti de Gauche’s summer congress, Mélenchon telephoned Assange on stage, allocating him a good five minutes of speech-making for a captive audience of thousands. The line cut out several times and the delivery was delayed further by the translation process (Assange was speaking in English), leaving some members of the crowd looking bemused; others bored. But in the end, there was a great cheer as Mélenchon thanked his “comrade” for honouring the event from his London enclosure.

 


Second choice?


At around the same time, Assange was also trying to court Russia’s jailed Pussy Riot feminists with an appeal from his London balcony. That didn’t go so well, but perhaps an alleged rapist isn’t really their thing.


Understandably, Pussy Riot would have been a much bigger catch for Assange. Few people would recognise Mélenchon outside of France, and his Marxist cause is certainly less sexy than the Russians’ call for gender equality and gay rights.


So what did the pair discuss over tea? Except for their mutual mistrust of the US and UK governments, they seem to have little in common. One passion they undeniably share is the heat of the media spotlight. Perhaps if they keep making appearances together, they can just about stay under it.

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11 Comments
FREE MANNING AND ASSANGE! nice post marc
I wouldn't call a visit by melanchon something lucky.
Two losers.
"One was upset because he didn't use a condom?" No wonder some can accept that Assange is accused of sexual assault. The police would be concerned if a person was upset as described about and wonder if force or deception was used. At some point people have to stop defending Assange with argument that could suggest a crime was committed by Assange.
Stop sneering! All Britain and Sweden need to do is to ensure that Assange will not fall into American hands, and all problems would be solved. America has used - in Western eyes - .torture, and many of the federal states still have capital punishment.Both these amount to "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" in breach of Art 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the identically worded Art 3 of the European Convention. If Sweden is acting in good faith, why will it not give him this assurance of safe conduct?
Is there no narcissist, terrorist, utopian activist, and etc. that the far-left will not embrace?? For the feeble minded and other of "low information", Communism has murdered more people in the 20th century than anything else, Mao being the worst. Is it too much to ask the far-leftists of the world stop praising people like Mao, Lenin, Stalin, and other lunatics of the same mind-set? Communism, like any other oppressive authoritarian society, is a failure....and always will be.
It is interesting for a journalist not to have much sympathy for somebody who actually took immense risks to show the duplicity of the world biggest power, and who is wanted in America with a potential death penalty hanging over his head or inhumane treatment in prison as experienced by the yet-not-convicted Bradley Manning. As for Melenchon, if you had been at his meeting at UCL on thursday night and listened to what he had to say rather than observed his facial expressions, you may have found more food for thoughts than I can find in your blog. It is actually refreshing to listen to a politician who does not take his listeners for a bunch of croonies or idiots and who uses history and philosophy as well as economical and political facts to explain his agenda in some times humorous ways. And indeed, I would have thought that journalists prefered straight talking honnest individuals rather than the straight-faced lying politicians we are so used to. From my point of view, we need more Melenchon and Julian Assange and fewer of the rest as it is our political 'elite' in power that got us in the state we are in along with their friends in multinational corporations, hedge funds and banks. But those don't grimace indeed; they are laughing all the way through: at the fact that they got away with creating the worst financial crisis ever and that they can carry on their deadly business thanks to tax payers plugging the massive hole they left ... all that with the benediction and support of their political and economic allies and the journalists they employ.
Bon Jour, Assange is a hero. We deserve to know what our keepers have been up to, and have planned for us! Free Assange!
Free speech should be celebrated. We should not prosecute whistle blowers.
"perhaps an alleged rapist isn’t really their thing." The Swedish women involved in this issue alleged no such thing. One was upset because he didn't use a condom and the other complained saying he wasn't a particularly considerate lover. Perhaps these are crimes in Sweden but elsewhere the solution would be not to spend another night with him as one of the complainants did.
Please help support freedom of the press and freedom of information by sponsoring Julian Assange for the Nobel prize for freedom of the press: Google: Avaaz.org Julian Assange for Nobel prize "Freedom of the Press" and vote!