We are all Ecuadorians now. Or maybe just Tralfamadorians.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Cringely reveals what WikiLeaks' Syria emails really mean. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]
The situation came to a head on Wednesday night, as British police surrounded the embassy, along with a few dozen pro-Assange protestors. I thought for sure we were on the verge of an international incident, but the bobbies declined to storm the palace. Still, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa better shouldn't expect an invitation to the next Silver Jubilee celebration. I hope it was worth it.
As for the WikiLeaks founder, he's had to sleep on an air mattress in a small office in the embassy -- a slight downgrade from the Norfolk mansion and the 3,000-acre estate in Sussex where he has spent most of the last two years. Per the New York Times:
A diplomat familiar with Mr. Assange's situation said that he spent his time in a back room, which gets no direct sunlight. Several weeks ago he had a bad cold and appeared depressed, the source said.
"He can't get outside to see the sun," his mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent interview conducted in Quito for BBC Mundo, a BBC Web site. "I'm worried about his health, as I would be for anybody who is having to stay indoors and not get exercise and have sunlight."
She said some of Mr. Assange's friends have encouraged him to put on music and dance as a way of getting physical activity and that they had also brought sunlamps.
Umm, mom, have you seen your son? He looks like he hasn't gotten any sunlight in 20 years. But he makes up for it by spending as much time in the spotlight as possible.
As much as the U.S. government loathes Julian Assange -- really, can you blame the feds? -- I doubt Uncle Sam would take the extraordinary step of prosecuting him. Although an Australian citizen (or possibly now an Ecuadorustralian), he is still technically a journalist, albeit a crappy and morally suspect one. Would the Obama Administration prosecute Assange in an election year when it would a) tick off the president's liberal base while b) giving more anti-Constitutional fodder to his opponents? It seems unlikely.
Regardless, Julian Assange's legal and political problems have now become a problem of physics. He's still in the Ecuadorian embassy, a small island of refuge surrounded by an angry sea of England.
How can Assange manage to transport his physical person from his air mattress in the Ecuadorian embassy to Ecuador proper without setting foot on British soil -- thus, subjecting himself to arrest? That's the 64-million-sucre question.