05:24:30 pm on
Monday 22 Jul 2024

Julian Assange and Michi
David Simmonds

Julian Assange, hero or villain, with a young Michi, in Ecuadorian essay.

Julian Assange has holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years. The standoff about his stay continues. Surely, he will stay in Ecuadorian territory for some time, as the USA is threatening to take action against him, if he leaves his hold.

Critics and supporters argue with equal passion.

Assange founded Wikileaks and attained fame when he published a bundle of top-secret US intelligence cables. Then, from his post in exile, he managed to post a bundle of documents from the presidential campaign of Hilary Clinton. These e-mails were initially hacked by the Russians. His actions inspire critics and supporters with equal passion.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, in London, after he lost an appeal to the British Supreme Court against his extradition to Sweden, where he faced a sexual assault investigation. Once he leaves Ecuadorian territory, it is a hop, skip and jump to extradition to the US to face treason charges and, possibly, the death penalty.

Sweden dropped its investigation; therefore, that risk of extradition has faded. Assange, however, breached bail terms in Britain. Thus, he is subject to arrest in that country, if he ever leaves his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Then, of course, it would be a hop, skip and jump to jail in the USA.

Assange still fears the US might request his extradition from Britain if he is in British custody. Earlier this year, his British lawyers appeared before a judge; they asked to have his arrest warrant expunged, but a very tartly worded judgement offered him little sympathy, essentially saying it was his choice to skip bail and therefore he must live with the consequences. Thus, he remains a holdout in the embassy, six years and counting.

Assange must be going stir crazy. How many episodes of Coronation Street can one-man stomach? How many meals of Ecuadorian food can one-man stomach? He must be getting pale and stale, never having come out of the embassy compound.

Assange missed all kinds of major life events, such as the wedding of Harry and Meghan. He must be getting tired of the company at the embassy: there must be a finite number of people he can play a round or two of Scrabble with. It’s also not clear how many changes of socks and underwear he brought with him when he took refuge in the embassy: one only hopes that it has good laundry facilities.

Assange long over-stays his welcome.

Of course, his hosts are no doubt also going crazy. When the Ecuadorians originally offered him sanctuary, they probably never dreamed they would be inviting in a houseguest who was going to measure his visit in years. Yet, the Ecuadorians are giving signs that they he has over-stayed his welcome. They took away his computer temporarily back in March and, now, laid down the law concerning his cat, Michi.

Apparently, Assange is not a very tidy housekeeper, especially in the matter of cat hygiene. He was told that if he doesn’t clean up after the cat, he will be delivered into Russian hands to be looked after, sans cat. Assange is very fond of the cat, and, as most cat owners the world over, has posted fetching videos on Instagram.

Assange has responded to the clean-up-your-act order by doing what most of us would naturally think of in such a circumstance: he sued there Ecuadorian government for “violating his fundamental rights and freedoms.” It will be interesting to see how the courts handle that one, although I would wager a little money a sympathetic hearing is unlikely.

There’s something about the difference between a tenant and a guest. An admonition to clean up his act and his room would be all many would expect him to get. Any teenager would receive the same message.

There was a rumour a few weeks ago that Assange and his unnerved hosts were negotiating a deal with the British authorities. Nothing came of it. The US waits.

Will Assange make the first move and walk out to face his fate in the British justice system? Will the Ecuadorians continue to put up with him or give him the boot into the hands of the British? Will Ecuadorians pass him over to the Russians with his diplomatic protection intact?

More importantly, will the British equivalent of the humane society step in to protect Michi, the cat. Will Michi and Assange be separated? Will Michi still feature in Instagram videos? The online world needs to know.

This melodrama is sad.

Once, it was a high stakes drama. Today, it plays out as a melodrama, cheap and tawdry. To quote a well know Twitter user, “Sad.”

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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