It is tradition for the pope to send messages to public figures in prison for political reasons.

The Vatican neither confirms nor denies their existence because they are considered gestures of humanitarian support that do not necessarily endorse the person in question.

Pope Francis’ latest gesture comes to Julian Assange, who received his papal message from the Belmarsh prison priest on Palm Sunday.

The contents of the message were not revealed, except that it was “kind” and “personal.”

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