“Chronic lung complaint” is how Ecuador’s ambassador describes Assange’s medical problem. This could cover several possibilities. If it is asthma, he is likely to need bronchodilator drugs or steroids, which would explain his regular check-ups.

Asthma would also fit with the ambassador’s warning that Assange’s condition could “get worse at any time”.

Other possibilities are chronic bronchitis, usually seen in long-term smokers, or bronchiectasis, which leads to repeated lung infections.

Assange is said to be using a vitamin D lamp to compensate for the lack of sunlight – and low levels of vitamin D increase susceptibility to infection.

The more remote possibility is that he has tuberculosis. Whatever he is suffering from, his cramped life indoors will not help his condition – but neither can it be blamed for it.