Monday, October 28, 2013

BEHIND THE EMBASSY DOORS WITH JULIAN ASSANGE

On guard outside the Embassy
  For the past 500 days Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, a stone's throw from Harrod's in London's Knightsbridge. From there he continues to direct operations for WikiLeaks, of which he is the editor-in-chief, talking via Skype with his staff and followers around the world.
Julian Assaange
 The 42-year-old Assange has been living in the Embassy since June 2012 when he was granted diplomatic asylum. The British government wants to extradite him to Sweden under a European Arrest Warrant for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation. Metropolitan police officers have been stationed outside the embassy since Assange entered the building and have been ordered to arrest him if he attempts to leave.
  Only a few people have been allowed in to the Embassy to talk with him in person and last week while we were in London photographer Theo Kingma and I joined that exclusive group.
   After passing armed Metropolitan police on the door and undergoing strict security checks from Embassy officials, we were allowed inside with the bags of goodies we had bought from Harrods' Food Hall for Assange and the staff. After a short wait in the waiting area Assange came out to greet us and took us into an office where we spent an hour talking with him about a variety of subjects. At his insistence, our conversation was off the record so I cannot divulge what was said.
  But contrary to beliefs, the 42-year-old Australian is cheerful, affable, humourous and appears to be, if not contented, then certainly at ease in his surroundings.
  Earlier, via Skype, he told us: “Of course it’s difficult to wake up for 500 days and see the same walls but on the other hand I am doing good work and I have no time for anything else so it’s a bit counter-productive to trap me here, because what else can I do but work?
 
“I have my heart and soul in this work. I have a very capable and loyal staff and we have a lot of supporters around the world and people who believe in what we do and want to see if it continues. So although I am trapped in these walls, intellectually I am outside with our people today and that to me is important."

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