Julian Assange marked the first anniversary of his stay in the Ecuadorean embassy here trying to sound cheerful and defiant as he insisted that he was prepared for the long haul.
No, he was not bored. And his health was fine, thank you, he said speaking to a group of news agencies.
“Where do people get this crazy idea that I have time on my hands?” he asked pointing out that he worked 17 hours a day.
The founder of WikiLeaks acknowledged that he hadn’t had “any sunlight for a year’’ and it took “diligence to stay healthy’’ in the cramped confines of Ecuador’s cramped mission, but he made clear that he was in no hurry to leave. He was going to stay put until the British government guaranteed him safe passage to Ecuador where he has been granted asylum.
Mr. Assange, who arrived at the embassy on June 19 last year to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, said he might not leave even if the Swedish authorities dropped their extradition bid. He feared that if he stepped out of the heavily-guarded embassy, he would be arrested and extradited to America where, he believes, moves are afoot to prosecute him for leaking top-secret documents.
“If the Swedish government immediately drops their request tomorrow, I still cannot leave this embassy. If I walk out the front door I could be arrested in relation to the United States,’’ he said.
“The strong view of my U.S. lawyer is that there is already a sealed indictment which means I would be arrested, unless the British government gave information or guarantees that would grant me safe passage.