Julian Assange is many things, but one thing he refuses to be is forgotten. When the spotlight fades for more than a few days, the WikiLeaks founder seems compelled to do something to bring it back on him.
The albino Aussie went for a walkabout last week, leaving the brutal confines of his house arrest in the Eridge Park estate of Lord Abergavenny, a 3,000-acre parcel of green space dating back to William the Conqueror, and landing on the doorstep of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (I hear he stopped by a Banana Republic store on his way.) He's been in the embassy ever since, awaiting word on whether his request for political sanctuary will be granted. As I write this post he is still there.
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For the last two years Assange has been awaiting extradition to Sweden to stand trial on charges of face questions regarding alleged sexual assaults. Assange says he's not afraid of the assault charges; he's afraid of being kidnapped by U.S. operatives and put on trial for espionage relating to his release of some 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables -– or worse. That extradition process is scheduled to start in a few days; hence the sudden flight.
Still, even his Swedish attorney Thomas Olsson says that was probably not the most brilliant move. "It makes him look like a suspect in the public's eye," Olsson says.
Memo to Mr. Olsson: It's probably just a language thing, but to be clear, Assange is already a suspect. (House arrest -- hello?) What you really mean is that it makes him look guilty. And it does.
Tristan Hopper at the U.K.'s National Post has composed an imaginary diary of Julian Assange's thoughts as he waits for word inside the Ecuadorian embassy:
It may seem like a simple sex assault extradition, but I wouldn't stand a chance of setting foot on Swedish soil before getting a ricin pellet in the neck. I know too much: The invisible helicopters, the chemtrails, the water fluoridation, the secret U.S. plan to suppress the water-powered car. …Thus, my only option was to don a disguise and set out in search of a country not yet seized by the forces of darkness.
I tried New Zealand, but discovered it was just a painting of a door on the side of the Australian embassy. And when I walked into the French embassy, they just pretended like they couldn't speak English.
Hopper adds: "I've just realized that even if my asylum application is approved, this embassy is in the unfortunate condition of being completely surrounded by England."
What does Julian Assange have to do with Ecuador, exactly? Not much. This request came about due to an appearance last month by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa on Julian Assange's TV talk, which Assange broadcasts from within the estate. One imagines how that dialogue must have gone:
Assange: "So mate, d'ya mind if I maybe pop on down to your country and stay for three or four decades?"
Correa: "Yes, we have many valuable exports and are the world's largest producer of bananas."
Assange's only apparent reason for asking Correa is that Ecuador lacks an extradition treaty with the United States. But there are at least six good reasons why Ecuador should grant Assange's request:
Harboring Assange will really tick off the U.S. government, which is like catnip to the South American electoral masses -– assuming Correa bothers to hold any more elections. By comparison, he'll make Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez look like Ashton Kutcher.