This is a fascinating tale reported in the UK Independent:
For the past fortnight, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has been at the centre of a global firestorm. Wanted by Interpol, by the Swedish police, even, briefly, by Scotland Yard, he has been called a terrorist and a revolutionary. Several leading American politicians and commentators have called for him to be killed, while Russia and China have also been loud in their condemnation. Yesterday, Assange appeared at City of Westminster magistrates’ court to fight extradition to Sweden on sex charges that he says are politically motivated. He was granted bail – subject to an appeal by Swedish prosecutors that could see him spend a further 48 hours in custody – on condition that he provides a security of £200,000 to the court, with a further £40,000 guaranteed in two sureties of £20,000 each – and that he spends between now and 11 January as the house guest of Captain Vaughan Smith, a former Grenadier Guard and founder of the journalists’ Frontline Club.
He will be under curfew every day from 10pm to 2am and from 10am to 2pm and will be required to report daily to the police from 6pm to 8pm. He must spend every night at Cpt Smith’s home and will be electronically tagged.
Mr Assange has for several months been staying as a guest of Cpt Smith and other members at the Frontline Club in London, which he founded seven years ago to stand for independence and transparency, and he has also stayed at Cpt Smith’s home in Suffolk. Below is Cpt Smith’s account of the past weeks…
Having watched Julian Assange give himself up last week to the British justice system, I took the decision that I would do whatever else it took to ensure that he is not denied his basic rights as a result of the anger of the powerful forces he has enraged.
This decision – which will result in one of the most unusual Christmases I have ever experienced – began to take shape last Monday night, as we gathered round a computer in my home, talking via Skype to Mark Stephens, Julian’s solicitor, in London.
This is how I remember the scene…
It is late in the evening. The screen periodically goes to sleep and Sue, a friend, keeps tapping the keyboard to keep it awake, relighting their faces.
Julian is completely still except his foot, which he rocks from side to side. I remember being told that he always did this when he was concentrating.
I feel that I am intruding, but Julian smiles at me. He does that: brings you in and makes you feel you are important to him when most of us would feel too preoccupied to do such a thing.
Julian is in front of a computer all the time. Immersed and uninterruptable; you feel you could arrive in a clown suit and he wouldn’t notice you.
But often you can gently greet him while he is typing furiously and he will immediately stop what he is doing and report developments for half an hour, well beyond the time you feel he should get back to his work.
The call is finished, and Julian is standing by the fireplace. Miles away. We start discussing the call. A couple of other friends and supporters are there too. Julian is still quiet but he is listening to us. The conversation dries up because the call to Mark has brought it all home.
There seemed to be other options, but they are all of straw. Julian dismisses each as it is suggested. He doesn’t want to look as if he has something to hide. The British police have said they want him and he is going in.
Sue and the other friends start discussing his statement. I get my camera set to film it for them and start working on the logistics. I don’t work for WikiLeaks, but I get drawn in. The police have given less time than expected and he cannot be late.
Julian sits on the sofa. Then he lies down. Then he sleeps. He’s been up for 48 hours. We don’t film any statement.