Ruth Dudley Edwards: He craved notoriety, now he's a laughing stock
Even his staunchest followers can't help but see Julian Assange's true colours now, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
COULD I feel sorry for Julian Assange? Sure, he's got the global notoriety he craved, but he wanted to be hailed as a hero, not a jerk. Yet because he has revealed himself as such a humourless, paranoid, self-important, dishonourable jerk, millions are laughing at him when they're not denouncing him as a sex pest.
As he sits in the Ecuadorian embassy wondering if he'll be there for days, weeks, months or years, presumably Assange must while away much of his time reading about himself on the internet. And very unpleasant that must be, unless he confines himself to reading or listening to encomia from representatives of repressive states or to his fast-dwindling group of supporters, who are themselves being increasingly abused and mocked for championing the indefensible.
Many of Assange's critics were fans until it dawned on them that WikiLeaks had mainly damaged only democratic governments; that far from being keen on freedom of information, he gagged his own associates; that he seemed consumed with loathing of the US; that in Sweden he had, at the very least, behaved like a sexual boor; that since the US Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech, there was no sensible reason to believe its administration would try to extradite a non-citizen for leaking information; and that claiming asylum was cowardly.