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Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

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Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by party animal - not! on Sun Aug 17 2014, 09:10

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Wrath of the Wiki fugitive: Lack of sun has given him heart defect... He's not allowed to go to hospital... And 'police burn £240k a month on me!' Indignant and unrepentant, an interview with Julian Assange


  • Julian Assange, 43, has been at Ecuadorian Embassy for two years
  • He is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sexual assault allegations
  • He claims policing the embassy costs Britain £240,000 a month
  • WikiLeaks founder fears Sweden or UK will extradite him to the U.S.


When Julian Assange was in solitary confinement in HMP Wandsworth, he was permitted one hour daily of fresh air and proper exercise in the outside world. Since he was granted asylum within the Embassy of Ecuador two years ago yesterday, the WikiLeaks chief has known no such luxury.
One hour is the minimum demanded by the United Nations – after visiting Assange last Monday, I can see the toll exacted by its absence.
His usually pale skin is now almost translucent and on his face it is so puffy it looks as if it is lifting off his naturally sharp cheekbones. He has a chronic cough which the installation of a humidifier to moisten the dry, air-conditioned atmosphere has done little to ease. His eyes have navy pools of shadow beneath them, suggesting that he’s shifted from nocturnal to sleep-deprived.


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Bolthole: Julian Assange, pictured with Sarah Oliver in the studio inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been hiding from the law for two years

He has grown a snowy beard. ‘It’s a helpful point of reference for people  to acknowledge the passing of time,’ he says, grinning.
Assange is, according to a WikiLeaks source, suffering from the potentially life-threatening heart condition arrhythmia and has a chronic lung complaint and dangerously high blood pressure.  A severe shortage of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is impacting on his general health – in the long term, it can trigger asthma and diabetes, weaken bones and increase the risk of dementia.
 
The Ecuadorians have asked permission to take him to hospital – using a diplomatic car as an ambulance if the need arises – but it’s a request the Foreign Office has declined to answer. In the meantime, he works out with a former SAS veteran who acts as his personal trainer and plays football alone in the embassy corridor in an effort to keep flexible.
Compared to the last time I saw him (at Christmas), he does not look well. Today he’s wearing smart dark jeans, a favourite black and white flannel shirt and – typically Assange – a pair of socks at least one size too small. He’s a restless soul, his feet jiggling and his arms windmilling to make one point or another.

And the point he’d like to make is that he’s angry. He’s angry about the cost of his exile to his health, to his family and to Britain – £7 million and counting. He doesn’t like the words ‘self-imposed’, believing he had no option in his battle  to avoid extradition to the US where he faced up to 35 years  in prison for his controversial whistleblowing activities.



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No choice: Assange, pictured giving his Christmas address from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy last year, is convinced Sweden or the UK will extradite him to the US if he leaves the embassy

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Police presence: The 43-year-old WikiLeaks founder claims policing the embassy costs Britain £240,000 a month

‘Look,’ he says, ‘the broader geopolitics is that the world is going crazy. Maybe it’s time to think that WikiLeaks is not the main problem here for the West, maybe me and my publishing house are a lesser threat than say the Islamic State in Iraq or, closer to home, paedophiles in Westminster.
‘Why are they burning £240,000 a month on me which could be better spent on hospital beds, meals for the needy or teachers’ salaries? The Metropolitan Police Service has now spent in excess of £7 million on guarding the embassy, which is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money.’
I ask him unambiguously what he’d do if the police were removed from their round-the-clock watch.

There is officer one guarding the internal front door of the embassy, one on the steps outside and others strategically positioned nearby. It’s difficult to imagine he’d not show British officers a clean pair of heels – although it would have to be some kind of diplomatic  flit as the formerly nomadic traveller doesn’t have a passport.

‘The British authorities have it. Apparently it’s lost in a drawer somewhere. And it’s not like I can go into the Australian Consulate to get a replacement.’


But he hasn’t answered the question. He demurs for a moment and says: ‘I would want an understanding – formal or informal – that I would be given time to leave the UK before the US puts in an extradition bid. And then I’d go to my children, like any father.’ He is visibly upset.
‘One of my children is trapped in a war zone,’ he says unexpectedly. ‘They live in a country in which the elected government has collapsed and violence has broken out. I cannot go there. As with any parent, my instinct is to protect but I can do nothing.
‘One of the best things about human beings is that they are adaptable and show strength and configure themselves to cope with bad situations. I can do that, not least because I understand the politics of it all. What I don’t accept is the interference with my family. That is not forgivable. I have managed to protect some of my children, but unfortunately not all of them, from being used, swept up into this situation.
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Rape case: Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden relating to allegations of two separate sexual assaults four years ago


‘I have not seen my mother for two years, nor my grandmother, who is 87. In the time I have been in the embassy, both my stepfather and my grandfather have died. 

'I am a man in my early 40s and most people will understand that means playing a supportive role in an extended family, being the person others rely on instead of worrying about.
‘I am being denied that, and by extension so are they.

‘We miss each other but it’s incredibly difficult to have any kind of relationship with those you love because it puts them in danger of surveillance, of attack. I am extremely protective of them and have done everything possible to avoid their exposure because I cannot have them being used as leverage against me.’

To see Assange now and to read his ‘cypher-punk’ CV – he remains one of most gifted computer hackers of all time – you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a geek. But he’s not.
He grew up on an all-Australian childhood of crab-hunting, fishing, raft-building and ocean swimming. He loves mountains and forests and it’s clear he feels wrenched from the natural world. ‘I can’t even keep a pot plant alive for long in here,’ he says.
All of which underscores the enormity of the decision he made in  June 2012 to seek asylum in the embassy, a status that was granted two years ago this weekend.

The United States wants to prosecute him over WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of an extraordinary cache of classified documents concerning the Pentagon’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and US diplomacy elsewhere in the world. Assange is also the subject of a European Arrest Warrant relating to allegations of a sexual misconduct in Sweden four years ago. No charges have been brought in connection with the allegations – which he has steadfastly denied – but prosecutors wish to question him in Stockholm.

What Assange fears is that he could be extradited to America by either the UK or Sweden and that he risks spending most of the rest of his life in jail. He remains optimistic a diplomatic solution will be achieved by the UK and Ecuador which will enable him to seek safe passage to a friendly country. He still believes that will be Ecuador itself. ‘As a nation they have done the hard yards for me and I know it is a safe place.’
Assange describes life in the embassy as ‘sometimes lonely and sometimes peaceful’.

But it’s a life that still attracts a lot of attention. He regularly receives bomb and death threats by post and email but is also targeted by female fans proposing marriage and romance. ‘He puts them all in the bin but he gets offered pretty much everything you could imagine – everything,’ said an embassy insider.
His small bedroom, to the rear of the embassy, is his sanctuary. He has a private shower room, use of the tiny galley kitchen which serves the embassy staff and office space which shifts from room to room for security reasons.
It is cluttered with computer equipment, tiny cups of South American coffee and correspondence, including a letter from the Select Committee on Extradition Law asking him for a submission as to whether the UK’s extradition system breaches fundamental human rights. ‘It’ll have to be a written  one,’ he deadpans.

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Defence: The 43-year-old Australian is being represented by human rights lawyer - and George Clooney's fiance - Amal Alamuddin, somethign which might change if Clooney runs for office

‘I cook for myself most days, ordinary things like lasagne and curry. I roast vegetables and long to be able to make a proper Sunday lunch but the kitchen is not quite big enough. When I am alone, when everyone else has gone home except the guard on the front desk, I practise my football skills up and down the long corridor. I don’t have much time but also enjoy watching some TV series.’


His current favourite is The Honourable Woman which, with its complex plot centred on politics and national security surveillance, he evidently finds familiar.
Its star, Maggie Gyllenhaal, visited him with her husband Peter Sarsgaard while filming it in London  last year, but ‘I’m watching it one episode a week on BBC2 like everyone else – there are no perks there’.

The Honourable Woman and Series 9 of the counter-terrorism cult thriller 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland, both reference WikiLeaks’ work. ‘It’s a compliment to us to be considered enough of an element in the world that Fox TV, which makes  24, would use us as a serious plot device… even if it is about insane anarchist ambition which would lead to Armageddon!’

He’s making a joke about the reach of WikiLeaks, which remains  an organisation that divides public opinion. It’s either a force which holds governments and corporations to account or a publishing house guilty of harming the national security of Western nations.
It’s this latter belief which is preventing Assange from being permitted to leave the embassy to receive hospital attention.
‘He would come round handcuffed to his hospital bed,’ one source told me.

He is represented in his fight to retain his freedom by human rights barrister Amal Alamuddin, who recently became engaged to George Clooney. She spent two-and-a-half hours with him last week but she may have to accept that her  fiance’s political ambitions – there  is speculation Clooney will run for the governorship of California  and perhaps even the White House – will become incompatible with defending a man considered by some US politicians to be an enemy of America.

When I first met Assange, he was just 100 days into his embassy exile and believed it could be as little  as three months until the case in Sweden was dropped, solving at least one of his and his glamorous barrister’s problems. But amid the timeless marble and mahogany fittings of his surroundings, almost 700 days have gone by.

Assange is not free to so much as step outside, but he is free to work. ‘I remain the CEO of a small multinational publishing house which goes toe  to toe with the White House, the Pentagon and the national security services,’ he says with pride.
‘I said when I got out of prison I had enough anger to last me 100 years and 100 years are not passed yet – but that anger also acts as useful fuel to get work done.’

He has refused to let the difficulties of the past two years derail WikiLeaks’ continuing publication of secret and controversial material from around the world. He has also written a book about Google which will be in bookshops next month and is working on another about geopolitics for 2015. A documentary he  co-produced this year about human rights abuses in El Salvador was nominated for a prize at the HotDocs International Film Festival.

Assange remains inspired by his work but it’s clear he is ailing and that the political and media momentum of those early days which kept his spirits soaring, has faltered. The task he set himself of building a manageable new life in the embassy has achieved a suffocating status quo and diplomacy is deadlocked.
‘However,’ he reflects, ‘my stubbornness is my best and my worst quality. I won’t give up.


Last edited by Nicky80 on Sun Aug 17 2014, 10:25; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added text and pics)

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Nicky80 on Sun Aug 17 2014, 10:31

I think he can complaint as much as he wants and make himself look like now as a victim. It will not change his situation anyway. Any other people who were involved and the US got arrested are in jail so will he if he ever gets out of his whole. 

Funny that he is now complaining about not seeing his family and tries to sell himself as a good family men. If your family is so much worth to you you think twice about your actions and the consequences for you and for your family....You can't have it all...

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Alisonfan on Sun Aug 17 2014, 10:50

Nobody cares.  Full stop.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by The next mrs clooney on Sun Aug 17 2014, 10:56

He's brought it all upon himself so he gets no sympathy.  
Also WTF DailyMail, I think George has made it clear to you that he isn't running for office so why even mention it.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Sun Aug 17 2014, 11:58

He should get a BETTER lawyer ! Some of you ladies should read his book ! Your comments show your total ignorance about him !!!

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by annemarie on Sun Aug 17 2014, 12:39

Why does he need a better lawyer, Amal is one of the best there is. He brought this on himself so this is his punishment . He needs to man  up and not whine.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Silje on Sun Aug 17 2014, 13:49

There is  a shortage of sun where I live too a big part of the year. That's why we take Vitamin D pills.

And the smart thing to do would be to go to Sweden and face the charges and keep your fingers crossed that the Swedes wont give you to the US. Sweden is officially a neutral country and that is how they want to be seen on the  international arena. So I don't think they will turn you over to Americans. But you might have to do time in a Swedish prison.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Sun Aug 17 2014, 13:55

annemarie wrote:Why does he need a better lawyer, Amal is one of the best there is. He brought this on himself so this is his punishment . He needs to man  up and not whine.
Amal is one of the best there is, ... euh ... is she really ? How would you know ???  Shocked

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by LizzyNY on Sun Aug 17 2014, 19:56

There's a saying here : If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. He should have thought about that before he got himself into this mess. Annemarie is right - he needs to man up and deal with his situation instead of hiding from the consequences of his actions.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Sun Aug 17 2014, 21:07

Laughing Define: crime and then think again who's committing crimes on this planet ey ...  Doh!

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by The next mrs clooney on Sun Aug 17 2014, 21:37

Atalante wrote:He should get a BETTER lawyer ! Some of you ladies should read his book ! Your comments show your total ignorance about him !!!
If you have such in-depth knowledge of him then why not share it Atalante rather than simply insulting people on the forum?

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Sun Aug 17 2014, 21:46

Read the book. Who is insulting whom here ???

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by LornaDoone on Sun Aug 17 2014, 22:45

Atlante if he wrote the book then I would assume it would be to make his case.  If there is a book out there that is neutral and gives facts then THAT book I'll read.  But something he wrote?  No way.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Mon Aug 18 2014, 00:43

Laughing Well WikiLeaks is on facebook too, ..., with loads of FACTS ... Enjoy !  Laughing

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Pita428 on Mon Aug 18 2014, 05:20

He IS Wikileaks so it makes sense that it would be biased. An innocent person does not hide, they come forward and stand up for themselves and the truth knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. If he really believes what he had done is right he needs to stand up for it.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by jd68 on Mon Aug 18 2014, 06:35

The truth will not always set you free. Assange feels like he will not receive a fair trial, which is why he has been hiding out in the embassy.  He has ticked off too many governments and their allies and he needs to silenced.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Katiedot on Mon Aug 18 2014, 08:23

Pita428 wrote: An innocent person does not hide, they come forward and stand up for themselves and the truth knowing that ultimately the truth will come out.
You see, the trouble with that statement is that the truth IS out: he released it.  He released the truth about illegal, immoral and unethical things governments and corporations are doing.  In particular, the US government.  He has no hope whatsoever of a fair trial; the US government wants him disappeared forever and this trial in Sweden is a show trial that probably won't go ever ahead: if he turned up to 'prove his innocence', he'll simply be put on a plane and sent to the US and the Swedes will magically drop all charges.

Suggesting that this Swedish trial is in any way fair and he should go is like saying the old British witch trials on a ducking stool are fair: if she drowns, she was innocent and if she survives she's guilty of being a witch and will be burnt alive.

Now, that doesn't make him a hero and whiter than white, nor does that mean that he's ethically and morally sound himself. Some of what he's leaked has put lives at risk.  I have doubts whether he created wikileaks because he wanted to do good in the world or just for kicks, but to be honest that's not the important question.  Thanks to wikileaks, governments have found it that bit harder to do bad in the world and that's no bad thing.

Did he rape that wome in Sweden? It's dubious but IMO needs to be taken to court.  The trial could be held by tele conference, or the Swedes could promise not to extradite him, but they won't do either of these two things, which is odd if they cared all that much about the trial going ahead as they claim they are.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by it's me on Mon Aug 18 2014, 08:30

you perfectly sum it

you a lawyer too? Very Happy

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Pita428 on Tue Aug 19 2014, 04:22

If he believes what he has done was the right thing to do he should stand up for it. That is how real change comes about. By hiding out he makes himself look guilty. And either way he is a prisoner. And while he may have released truths, the way he did so endangered many people trying to do their jobs and could have risked the security of an entire country. IMO he is a self aggrandizing megalomaniac who needs to be questioned for the crimes he has been accused of, which at this point is all Sweden has asked for.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Atalante on Tue Aug 19 2014, 10:08

Governments, political leaders have sent people into their deaths, not Assange, ... , Assange exposed them so ... think again ...

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Pita428 on Tue Aug 19 2014, 22:29

Thought again, sticking with my original opinion. You are entitled to yours.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by Way2Old4Dis on Tue Aug 19 2014, 23:54

So, did anything ever come of the big "I'm leaving" announcement? Or just an attention-getting sideshow? I got bored and stopped listening.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by LizzyNY on Wed Aug 20 2014, 00:44

He said today that he'll leave when they let him go to Ecuador. I guess he thinks there's a chance they'll come to some sort of deal.

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

Post by NewFanForever on Wed Aug 20 2014, 05:54

We are all prisioners of something!

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Re: Daily Mail interview with Assange - Amal visit

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