Who would live in an embassy like this? Julian Assange invites the cameras into Ecuador's west London premises
The sit-down photo shoot and candid chat with a glossy magazine is usually the preserve of footballers and their wives. The founder of an organisation whose stated aim is to “open governments” by leaking sensitive information is perhaps a less obvious cover star.
But that has not deterred WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who posed for photos during an interview with an Australian celebrity magazine. The interview is billed as lifting the lid on Mr Assange’s life in the Ecuadorean embassy in west London, where he has been living for more than a year since claiming asylum there.
The Australian journalist, who is running for election to the Senate in his homeland, told WHO magazine that he is sleeping in a converted bathroom in the embassy.
The magazine also carries pictures of a relaxed-looking Mr Assange, reclining in a chair with a mug bearing the image of the rock band AC/DC.
The magazine quotes the 42-year-old as saying: “I couldn’t sleep because of the Harrods loading bay and the cops always doing shift changes outside. And the quietest room is the women’s bathroom, the only room that’s easy to sleep in. So I thought I’d try and somehow get hold of it and renovate it. Eventually, somewhat reluctantly, the staff relented. They ripped out the toilet. They’ve been very generous.”
He is sheltering in the embassy building behind Harrods from attempts to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual offences. He believes that his removal to Sweden would be followed by an onward extradition to America. And he articulated his fears that he was not entirely safe, telling the magazine not to reveal which sushi restaurant he orders from.
He said: “They might track the place down… They might put something in there that won’t kill me, but makes me very sick so I’ll have to go to hospital.”
According to a Quito source, relations between Mr Assange and his Ecuadorean hosts have reached a low-point over the Edward Snowden affair. Quito was said to be upset because they believed that the WikiLeaks founder was hijacking the issue.
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