Four months holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been “a little like living in a space station” but beats prison, fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday.
Assange sought refuge in the embassy in June, after losing a court battle against extradition to Sweden. Since then, he has been living in a single room with a frosted-glass window while the business of the diplomatic mission goes on around him.
“It’s a little like living in a space station, because there’s no natural light and you’ve got to make all your own stuff. You can’t go out to shops and so on,” Assange told CNN in an interview Thursday. “But I have been in solitary confinement. I know what life is like for prisoners. It’s a lot better than it is for prisoners.”
Embassy staffers would not allow CNN to view his living quarters, but Assange appeared relaxed and healthy despite his restricted circumstances. His comments came the same day WikiLeaks began disclosing a new round of U.S. military documents dealing with handling prisoners in American military custody.
Though the first of the newly published documents include no bombshells, Assange said the records his group will put out are “documents of incredible historical importance” and demonstrate a “climate of unaccountability” within the U.S. government.
Ecuador granted Assange asylum in August, amid a diplomatic row between the United Kingdom and his South American hosts. British courts have approved his extradition to Sweden, and Assange faces arrest if he sets foot outside the embassy.
Assange has not been charged with a crime, but Sweden has said it wants to question him about allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman there. Assange has denied the allegations and says they’re a ruse to get him to Sweden, which would then extradite him to the United States.
A U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is currently awaiting trial on charges that he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq. Many of those documents ended up on the WikiLeaks website, and Manning could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.
Assange said his standoff could end if the United States dropped its investigation of WikiLeaks.
“It’s an immoral investigation,” he said. “It breaches the First Amendment, it breaches all the principles that the U.S. government says it stands for and it absolutely breaches the principles the Founding Fathers stood for and which most of the U.S. people believe in.”