Even though he considers the Times one of his (many many) enemies, the one-time partner still gives forth with one of those hilariously and unintentionally self-parodying stories about The Knight of the Multi-hued Coif and Pallid Complexion.
By turns flattering him with the 'international man of mystery' shtick, while also insinuating that he has 'gone 'round the bend' the Times in effect bites the hand that feeds (or fed). In the process they briefly profile the Brit, Vaughan Smith owner of Ellingham Hall, stately country manor, who is giving Brave Sir Julian shelter and sustenance. The story is, as I've already said, snort worthy.
Get a load of the opening paragraph:
The man in the rubber boots and a thick coat to protect against the evening chill walked purposefully about a farm here, scattering pheasants as he went. He could have been an English gentleman out for a bit of hunting, except he carried no gun.
You can almost see the pensiveness, the care-worn expression, can't you?
The story makes clear that Assange has been given shelter by a fellow maverick:
Mr. Smith is something of a libertarian in his political beliefs, and a bit of a renegade. As a freelance videographer, he obtained unauthorized footage of the Persian Gulf war by impersonating a British officer and bluffing his way into an active duty unit. He organized Frontline News TV as a press agency during the 1990s because he felt that video freelancers were not being credited for their work, much of it obtained at great personal risk.
And, Smith is bravely standing with the beleaguered, you see..
“I was taught from a very young age that you need to stand up for the weaker party,” Mr. Smith said. “If Julian had ended up at a flat in London, it would have just been another sort of prison because of the press coverage of the case.”
Can't have the peasantry besieging the good man can we? However, it seems that Mr. Smith didn't bank on a long haul for his house guest.
“None of us knew it would go on this long,” Mr. Smith said, “but I think that Julian deserves justice in the same way as anyone else, so we have found a way to make it work.”
It has not all been rural bliss. There have been times when as many of 20 people from WikiLeaks stayed at the house. “I’d open a cupboard and another one would fall out,” Mr. Smith said. And then there is the matter of the farm animals. “Julian messed with my pigs,” Mr. Smith said, smiling.
Ellingham Hall, 130 miles north of London, is a working farm, and Mr. Assange decided to use the pigs to make a film about the credit card companies that have denied him the means to raise donations. Mr. Smith said Mr. Assange induced the pigs to break through an electric fence and make themselves at home in a nearby berry patch, a bit of porcine anarchy that did not amuse the farm manager.
Standing near the pig pen at dusk, Mr. Assange said it was not his fault, pointing to two young males. “They hacked the fence,” he said, deploying the terminology that has made WikiLeaks and its founder household names.
Mr. Assange, who has become “Uncle Julian” to Mr. Smith’s young children, seems less international man of mystery than a person frozen in the odd circumstance of the moment. He wears an electronic bracelet, reports to the local police every day and, to the extent he can, continues to push the WikiLeaks agenda.
Even here he sees enemies everywhere, suggesting helicopters have swooped in for occasional reconnaissance, and at one point backing me out of a kind of war room near the kitchen. “You can’t be in here,” he said, closing the door with a wan smile.
Oh good God. Enough already. I suspect the BBC could resurrect an old series, with a few changes...