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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reveals life inside ‘space station’ embassy

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 30, 2012 12:10 EDT
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Julian Assange via AFP
 
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LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is certain he will one day go to Ecuador, he said in an interview published Sunday, describing his life in the Ecuadoran embassy in London as “like being in a space station”.

The Australian activist, 41, has been holed up in the embassy since claiming asylum on June 19 in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over alleged sex crimes.

Assange — who denies the allegations and fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States — told Britain’s Mail on Sunday he was keeping busy by working 17 hours a day on the whistleblowing website.

WikiLeaks deeply embarrassed the US government in 2010 by publishing huge caches of confidential documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.

Assange supporters claim he could receive harsh treatment if sent to the US and possibly even face the death penalty.

Despite a diplomatic stalemate between Britain and Ecuador over his extradition to Sweden, Assange said he was sure he would eventually go to the Latin American country.

“I think it is inevitable but I will not be marooned there,” the former computer hacker told the Mail, which showed him wearing an Ecuadoran shirt with jeans and trainers as he sat in the embassy.

“From Ecuador, me and my staff could safely travel to and from a number of friendly countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, India, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina.”

Ecuador granted Assange asylum on August 16 but Britain has denied him safe passage out of the country, and police are guarding the embassy in case he tries to escape.

The WikiLeaks founder said he had spent some of his early days in the embassy “training to use emergency equipment”.

The Mail said was not permitted to disclose “the precise nature of the safety equipment he keeps close to his bed, nor of the contents of the documents and diagrams pinned to his wall”.

Assange complained that his health was “slowly deteriorating”, adding that he had “a racking cough”.

Nonetheless, he said he was keeping fit by using a running machine, boxing, and seeing a personal trainer — reportedly an ex-soldier in Britain’s elite SAS turned whistleblower — every other day.

He watches TV shows including 1960s sci-fi series “The Twighlight Zone” and US political drama “The West Wing” to relax.

The WikiLeaks founder also revealed that he had teething issues with the UV lamp — designed to replicate sunlight — when he first used before his appearance on the embassy balcony to address the media six weeks ago.

“After half an hour, one of my staff said, ‘Julian, your face on one side is beetroot, and your neck as well,’” he recalled.

“I looked like a boiled lobster but the balcony was a major political moment and I thought what, what, what am I going to do?

“I decided I would have to do the other side to match.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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