Monday, August 20, 2012

How strange can the Assange story get?

Personally, I feel pretty ambivalent when it comes to the case of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In principle, it's great that the hypocrisy of world leaders is exposed, but it's a shame the whistle-blowing website has seemingly alienated a number of its erstwhile supporters. And while I have no idea whether any of the personal allegations against its founder hold water, I think the Swedish authorities are unlikely to be part of an international CIA-inspired conspiracy.

What can't be disputed is Assange's capacity for generating headlines and disconcerting his enemies. From his political bid for the Australian Senate through to his grandstanding from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian embassy, the guy is a showman who wants to be remembered as a world figure.

Although pretty much anything could happen in this bizarre, unfolding story, the smart money surely has to be on Assange staying in his embassy bolthole for years. In 2030, he may still be there, long after everyone's forgotten who he is or why he was granted asylum. Perhaps this will prove the ideal time to sneak him out of the country in a large diplomatic bag.

I've been particularly intrigued by his living conditions. From what I've read, it's not quite an Anne Frank scenario, but still rather less luxurious than the posh embassy setting would suggest.

For a while, there was a blow-up bed for the puffed-up Wikileaker and it's only recently that the ambassador has managed to find a mattress. On the other hand, Assange works out on a treadmill (explaining his trim physique) and has a cable connecting him to the Internet (big mistake).

Over time, I wonder if his little room might take on more character. A handful of nick-nacks and mementos perhaps? A signed photo from the Ecuadorian president.

Embassy staff could smuggle in a few luxuries, such as a pot or two of Vegemite. Gradually, his room will take on the character of a prison cell occupied by one of the 'big' lags, who calls the shots on the wing and has the screws at his beck and call. Assange might become Grouty in a South American remake of Porridge.

Visitors welcome. As long as they're not from the tactical firearms unit of the Metropolitan Police.

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