Friday 20 October 2017

Joan Smith: Narcissist hacker's drama now a farce

Joan Smith

Narcissism is the curse of our age. Celebrity is its more familiar manifestation, spawning countless magazines and TV shows, but its tentacles have spread into every area of public life. France has recently terminated an unhappy experiment with a hyperactive president, suggesting that its appetite for constant self-promotion has its limits. Now a similar proposition is being tested in the UK by the saga of the hacker, Julian Assange.

The news that the increasingly eccentric founder of WikiLeaks had sought political asylum in Knightsbridge, of all places, was greeted with equal measures of disbelief and hilarity. The London embassy of Ecuador is convenient for Harrods, although I don't imagine that was a major consideration when Assange walked into the building on Tuesday afternoon.

His line is that he has been "abandoned" by his home country, Australia, which has failed to protect him from the threat of extradition to the US and the death penalty. The Australian government has a different story, but it's all part of Mr Assange's riveting psychodrama, in which this fearless champion of human rights has been kept under "house arrest" without charge in the UK for 500 days. That is what Assange told Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, in a TV interview last month.

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