It’s entirely possible that from today, the only obstacle between Julian Assange and freedom will be six years’ worth of pizza boxes blocking his door. Oh, and the bizarre secrecy of the US justice system.
Sympathy levels for the founder of Wikileaks differ, pursuant to his perceived personal characteristics. The same applies to his life’s work, but that doesn’t make his current situation any less bizarre.
In terms of Tom and Jerry cartoons, Assange is a hungry mouse, and there is a massive piece of cheese (freedom) wafting delicious smells in through the Ecuadorian embassy’s window that may or may not be attached to a very large mouse trap (American justice).
Sweden is no longer chasing him over allegations of sexual assault. While its justice system has an extremely long list of things it regards as constituting rape, it also has a very short attention span, so the Swedes have essentially given up trying to speak to Assange.
A prosecutor did however say that if Assange is ever passing through Sweden, he should still pop in.
Swedish authorities may have been swayed by Baywatch beauty Pamela Anderson, who is close to Assange and convinced he was set up.
Then we have the British legal system, which is now essentially deploying resources to arrest a man for skipping bail relating to Swedish charges that no longer exist.
The Metropolitan police says there is no longer a 24-hour police presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The man in a trilby hat and trench coat reading a newspaper outside the front door is probably still making Assange a little nervous though. (NB: Actual man in trilby does not exist. Ed.)
Assange is waiting for a British judge to drop the arrest warrant for absconding, which should enable him to walk free from the little room he has been in for over five years. But if the judge rules in Assange’s favour, that’s when the mind-bending US justice system kicks in.
The reason Assange is unlikely to head straight out the door to the nearest Starbucks is that there may be a US indictment hanging over him for his decision to leak classified documents. Then again, there may not.
As US Grand Jury decisions are made in secret, Assange cannot know what Washington has in store, but he’s probably taken an educated guess.
One British judge may decide Assange is now safe from arrest over his skipped bail. Minutes later, another could order he be snatched, prepared and served up on a silver extradition platter to America.
That little room in the Ecuadorian embassy and the midnight chats with Pamela Anderson will be memories as fond as they are distant if that happens. What would you do?