The Curtains Are Closing on the Julian Assange Show
The lights were bright on the curtains. It was the hush before the start of the play, the moment when the audience and the star alike breathe in, stomachs tightened. The cameramen at their tripods leaned forward to check the focus.
The curtains parted, and there he was: blonde hair, his pallor accentuated by the harshness of the lights, the world’s biggest cyber-activist. For one night only: the Julian Assange show.
“Good evening, London,” he said in his cultured-Australian accent, standing on a tiny semi-circular balcony with all the assurance of a star performing in the West End’s finest theater.
It was Dec. 20, and the WikiLeaks founder’s appearance marked six months since his auto-incarceration in London’s Ecuadorean embassy. Although Assange was within inches of British police tasked with detaining him, the balcony on which he stood is, owing to the vagaries of international law, Ecuadorian territory. Thus, he could do what he pleased—namely, to speak at great length about perceived injustices.
Sweden wants to try Assange on sexual assault charges, and Britain has promised to arrest him if he steps foot on London pavement. Ecuador has granted him asylum—and a room in which to live. Assange says Sweden only wants to detain him so as to hand him over to the United States, which is angry that his WikiLeaks organization released millions of classified American documents. U.S. officials deny such a “secret warrant” exists, and Swedish officials say they just want to see justice done.