Assange to deliver traditional faith spot on BBC radio show

Wikileaks founder will be given the Thought For The Day slot BBC Radio 4 on Thursday

 Julian Assange speaking to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London ahead of the first anniversary earlier this year. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Julian Assange speaking to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London ahead of the first anniversary earlier this year. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Tue, Dec 31, 2013, 18:38

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who has been holed up in an embassy in London for more than a year, is to deliver the traditional faith spot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The controversial figure, who has been granted asylum by Ecuador but is unable to leave the country’s embassy or he will be arrested, will be given the Thought For The Day slot on Thursday. He has been chosen by guest editor PJ Harvey to speak on the news show which will also feature contributions from campaigning journalist John Pilger.

Harvey’s programme will also include a further Thought from the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in the form of a poem. The singer said she was assured by the BBC that her guests she had chosen would not be edited. The Thought For The Day slot is usually a pause for reflection from a spiritual perspective and speakers from a variety of religions have contributed.

Harvey — who was awarded an MBE in the summer of 2013 — is one of a number of guest editors who are commissioned by the programme each year over the Christmas and New Year period and others over the past few days have included Michael Palin and Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former director general of MI5.

A statement issued on the singer’s behalf said: “Having received a guarantee from the BBC not to edit her contributors, Harvey carefully selects a diverse group with thought-provoking views.” Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy while he faced extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations and he was given asylum in August 2012.

He was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a movie about his Wikileaks site, called The Fifth Estate, but it bombed at the box office. Harvey’s Today programme will be broadcast from 6am on Thursday and will feature poems read by actor Ralph Fiennes including William Blake’s London.

There are also song extracts from Tom Waits, Joan Baez and Kiwi comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords.