Para el resto, a quienes las escandalosas y persistentes destemplanzas digitales y reales “turban el corazón”, si este ponzoñoso ambiente nacional no cambia y –como todo indica– se ahonda con un año electoral ad portas, no nos quedará más que, apartándonos del “mundanal ruido”, parafrasear a Wells, Fabra o León y “dejar que los perros ladren”.
WikiLeaks man talks with Ars—new book may reveal more about him than its subject.
It would be too much to say that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange feels optimistic. He’s been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than two years now, with cameras and police—”a £3 million surveillance operation,” he calls it—just meters away.
“There’s a sense of inevitability now,” Assange said when we asked if his situation might change.
Assange: “The situation is clarifying politically and legally.”
Ars: “I just want to be clear on this point—are you saying you’re hopeful you’ll be free soon?”
Assange: “I wouldn’t say hopeful. I would say it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that we will win the diplomatic standoff we’re in now.”
It’s getting late in London, where Assange is doing a barrage of press interviews on the eve of his new book, When Google Met Wikileaks (it goes on sale in the US later this week). We called at the agreed upon time, and a man who didn’t identify himself answered the number, which was for a London cell phone. He said call back in five minutes, and only then was the phone finally handed to Assange.
We’re supposed to focus on the book. But first, we want to know what life trapped in the embassy involves—where does he eat, sleep, do laundry? What is the room he’s in now like?
“For security reasons, I can’t tell you which sections of the embassy I utilize,” he said. “As to the rest, in a way, it’s a perfectly normal situation. In another way, it’s one of the most abnormal, unusual situations that someone can find themselves in.”
Assange ushered WikiLeaks through several massive leaks of secret US government reports and a tumultuous relationship with some prominent newspapers. first came the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of military reports on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, then a leak of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from the State Department.
He sought asylum from Ecuador when he was on the verge of being extradited to Sweden to face sexual-assault charges in that nation. If he leaves the embassy, he’ll be arrested, although it isn’t clear where he’ll be sent first. It’s widely assumed the US has an ongoing investigation into Assange over the leaks.
Asked about what his future outside the embassy walls might look like, he stays focused on the legal battles ahead. “We have a lot of dominos to knock over,” he said. “There are three or four different legal cases going on, and technical means to obstruct the asylum.”
He knows his travel will always be circumscribed to a degree, but Assange seems comfortable with that. He’s cognizant of the parallels between his situation and that of Edward Snowden.
“He has freedom of movement,” Assange acknowledged. “But his freedom of movement excludes a number of countries which can be pressured by the US, and that’s also true for me.”
His voice sounded scratchy as he spoke to Ars about how Google and its chairman Eric Schmidt were at the “center of American power,” pushing an “aggressive new ideology.” In the background, another phone started ringing. Assange wasn’t distracted. Half prisoner, half professor, he kept talking in the same slow cadence, with an insistent and didactic focus on making his point.