Assange faces boredom, stress in embassy

2012-08-18 08:42
(AP)

(AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - Julian Assange lives in a pricey building in one of London's toniest districts. But he is not staying in the lap of luxury.

The once globe-trotting WikiLeaks founder is confined to several hundred square metres of space inside Ecuador's London embassy. If he goes outside he will be arrested by British police and extradited to Sweden to be questioned about allegations of sexual assault.

The 41-year-old Australian computer expert has spent almost two months inside the embassy of the Latin American country, which on Thursday granted him asylum - but Ecuador lacks any obvious means of getting Assange past the police officers on the doorstep, onto a plane and out of Britain.

The Ecuadorean embassy consists of a ground floor apartment, some 10 rooms in all, inside an imposing red-brick apartment block in London's posh Knightsbridge area, practically next door to the luxury department store Harrods.

'No Hilton'

The mission has no bedrooms or guest accommodation. People who have visited Assange say he is living in an office that has been outfitted with a bed, access to a phone and a connection to the internet.

A shower has been installed, and the embassy has a small kitchenette. Assange also has received deliveries of pizza and other take-out food.

"It's not quite the Hilton," said Gavin MacFadyen, a supporter who has met with Assange at the embassy.

A treadmill provides some opportunity for exercise, and a sun lamp helps compensate for the lack of natural light.

Assange's mother Christine has said that visiting friends "turn the music on and encourage him to dance with them".

Health fears


But Christine Assange has expressed fears for her son's health. She said last month that he was facing severe stress after weeks of confinement and more than 18 months fighting legal battles while under strict bail conditions in Britain.

"He is under a lot of stress and it's been long-term stress now for nearly two years and in conditions which are similar to detention," she said.

Experts say the conditions are bound to take a psychological toll.

"He is stuck in no man's land," said Cary Cooper, a psychology professor at England's Lancaster University.
"One of the things that causes people most stress is not having any control," Cooper said. "He has none. The control is in other peoples' hands - the UK government, the Ecuadorean government. Not in his."

Disruptive

By any standards, Assange has had a disruptive 18 months. Since December 2010, when he was arrested in London at Sweden's request, Assange has been on police bail under conditions that required him to report daily to police, wear an electronic tag and live at a designated address. He spent more than a year at the rural English home of WikiLeaks supporter and former journalist Vaughan Smith.

That was a country mansion with 240ha of land. Assange's room to roam has shrunk dramatically since then.

But Smith, who visited Assange this week, said his friend was holding up well.

"He lives in a small room which can hardly be described as comfortable," Smith told the Evening Standard newspaper. "As a person though, he is happiest behind a computer doing his job. He is coping well.

Focused on work


"He was the same Julian he was when he was staying with me. He is not a sentimental person and so does not miss things other people might miss. He is focused on work."

There are few precedents for the situation Assange finds himself in. One of the most famous is the case of Roman Catholic Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, who sought refuge in the US Embassy in Budapest in 1956 and remained there for 15 years.

Few think the current stalemate will drag on that long.

Cooper said the most likely outcome, barring a diplomatic agreement between Britain and Ecuador, was that eventually isolation and confinement would drive Assange out of the embassy, even if it meant arrest.

"Ultimately the social incarceration will lead to him coming out," Cooper said. "I don't know when that will happen, but I think he will come out."

- AP
Read more on:    wikileaks  |  julian assange  |  ecuador  |  uk  |  sweden  |  espionage
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.