There is a poster, published by the Ecuadorian ministry of foreign relations, of a tubby, grinning pre-Columbian figurine. He looked pale—one close friend described his skin as “translucent.” His hand trembled a little. Assange was wearing a red shirt, tucked into black trousers without a belt, and he seemed groggy.There are cabinets filled with books, including dusty rows of a red-bound series, “Biblioteca Ecuatoriana Mínima” (1960). Hanging above the conference table from thin rods are two curious white orbs, each about the size of a volleyball. He was fighting battles around the world; he told me that he has had a hundred and fifty lawyers work on his behalf.He lives in a continuous state of hypervigilance, believing that the Embassy could be stormed at any moment.Shortly after he arrived, British authorities threatened to strip the Embassy of its diplomatic protections and apprehend him by force.Encouraged by millions of supporters, Assange has interfered with the world’s largest institutions.His releases have helped fuel democratic uprisings—notably in Tunisia, where a revolution sparked the Arab Spring—and they have been submitted as evidence in human-rights cases around the world.In the United States, the possibility loomed of a secret grand-jury indictment, related to documents that he had leaked years earlier. “These motherfuckers have taken on board a rhetorical device, and the rhetorical device is the ‘fallen man’ or the ‘fallen angel.’ .”Often, the lulls between major publications are difficult for him.Although Wiki Leaks has always been a magnet for criticism, the reaction to his election publications was unusually severe, with Assange gaining a reputation in Washington as a Russian intelligence asset. With the 2016 campaign behind him, he was focussing on a new project—a mysterious archive that he called Vault 7.
Out of concerns about security, and also perhaps because paparazzi occasionally wait for him on the street, he rarely parts the drapes in the daytime, or stands at the balcony.
Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle”—a recluse trying to reset the course of history.
In many ways, the Embassy has become a surreal redoubt: a place of extreme seclusion in the center of a bustling world capital; a protective stronghold that few can enter, even though it is the target of millions of dollars’ worth of covert surveillance.
“At one point, he was looking for an orthopedic doctor, and doctors were basically refusing to go in there,” Ben Griffin, a former British Special Forces soldier who volunteers as his personal trainer, told me.
As a precaution, Ecuador tried to negotiate a “safe passage” by which Assange could be admitted to a hospital without compromising his diplomatic protections, but the negotiations fell through.