Julian Assange Finally Leaves His Tiny Room But What Was It Like In There
hublot replica fake sale for men and women" style="max-width:410px;float:left;padding:10px 10px 10px 0px;border:0px;">id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> Richard Trenholm/CNET For the first time in seven years, Julian Assange's room is empty. The WikiLeaks founder has been arrested and removed from the tiny Ecuadorian Embassy where he'd lived in self-imposed exile since 2012.
The US immediately unsealed charges against Assange, alleging he engaged in a conspiracy to hack classified Defense Department computers in 2010. Extradition to the US seems a very real possiblity now.
During that seven years Assange was cut off from the world, yet still able to exert his influence on the politics and society that became increasingly remote outside his window. So I cast my mind back to the time I sat at his desk and spent time exploring the strain of being stuck in the tiny space in which Assange had elected to isolate himself.
Enlarge ImageWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been hidden away in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images I sat at the desk surrounded by WikiLeaks papers and blinking servers, legal documents and glasses of whiskey scattered across the table. But I wasn't actually in Assange's bolthole: instead, I was in a carefully-crafted replica at the FACT art centre in Liverpool, some 200 miles from Ecuador's embassy in London where Assange infamously holed up.
Seeing Assange hiding out in the embassy, artists Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, collectively known as Mediengruppe Bitnik, decided to slip him a message. In January 2013 they sent a parcel to the embassy containing a hidden camera, which snapped pictures of its journey and automatically posted them to Twitter. When Assange opened the package, he obligingly posed for the camera.
Contact established, the artists visited the embassy and met with Assange throughout 2013. They weren't allowed to photograph anything, but they claim to have meticulously recorded and reconstructed every detail of Assange's sanctuary so they could erect what they say is a perfect scale re-creation of the tiny room.
I went to Liverpool back in 2017, when Assange had been confined for five years, to get a better sense of a man some call a champion of free speech and transparency, and others denounce as a renegade -- or even a puppet of Russia -- who enables traitors and spies to serve his own political agenda.
A life in limbo
Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy, a modest red brick building tucked away behind posh department store Harrods, in June 2012. The Australia-born WikiLeaks founder claimed diplomatic asylum to avoid an international arrest warrant issued in Sweden two years earlier over alleged sexual offenses.
He refused to submit to questioning about the allegations, saying that if he was extradited to Sweden he might subsequently be turned over to the United States, where he faces the more daunting prospect of prosecution for publishing classified documents and even espionage. Those charges could lead to years in prison.
A police officer stands outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was still in residence. The embassy takes up just the ground floor and has no outdoor space.
Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images From then on, the computer programmer remained cut off from his children and the wider world in his strange sanctum somewhere between the White House and the Kremlin. In that time, WikiLeaks revealed a US intelligence agency wiretapped German leader Angela Merkel, published thousands of behind-the-scenes emails from Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential election campaign and revealed CIA secrets in the Vault 7 leak.
In 2017, just before I visited Liverpool, something huge happened: Swedish prosecutors dropped the sexual assault investigation that prompted Assange's flight from authorities. But he remained in his bolthole for another two years, because if he stepped outside he'd be collared by law enforcement on a lesser charge of jumping bail. British police officers have stood watch outside his door the entire time, at a cost to UK taxpayers estimated at £13 million between 2012 and 2015 alone ($16.8 million or AU$22.3 million).
Now he's been nicked by British bobbies, extradition to the US becomes a real possibility.
Another day at the office
I didn't know what to expect when I walked into Julian Assange's office.
Broadcasts from the embassy, as well as photos, YouTube videos and even a TV series offer a look over his shoulder for a rough idea of what his inner sanctum looks like. The entire Ecuadorian Embassy takes up just about 2,153 square feet on one floor, with no outdoor space and no direct sunlight. Standing in the replica, it became real.
Trailing my finger over the jumble of papers stacked on the table, the first thing that struck me was just how unstriking the office was. A desk jutted out from the wall, strewn with snacks and cables and an ancient silver Apple laptop. A round table crowded the middle of the room, with a ThinkPad laptop, Olympus dictaphone and various papers on it. Shelves filled with books, folders and bits of stationery lined the cream-colored walls.
It's just an office. Ordinary, mundane.
Exactly like the type of space many of us are confined in for eight hours a day -- except we get to walk out every night.
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