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Covering Assange

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For close to a decade, the ABC's London bureau has been covering one of the world's most controversial figures. The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in recent days, he missed an extradition hearing in London, because his lawyers say his health is deteriorating. The US has charged Assange with violating its espionage, act and Sweden wants to question him over a rape allegation. So is the Estrela and tries to fight competing extradition, requests Europe. Correspondent Bridget Brennan looks back at how the bureau has covered the story this, argh Arriva, Julian Assange, has become one of the longest running global stories, the say, has ever covered humiliated, the most powerful country in the world. ABC tracked, Julian Assange is rise with WikiLeaks as a deeply divisive figure who inspired, both admiration, and fury. We reported on his battle from London to avoid bang cinch. The US light of this afternoon here in London. You can imagine this quite a crowd. Camped outside reporters with their in Sweden to examine allegations, Julian Assange, six release salted to women in two thousand eighteen came to Sweden on the eleventh of August two thousand and ten we covered his decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he remained for almost seven years. It's a very complicated process, Paul. What is happening is the Ecuadorian prosecutor has been here today. We're going to see any sign that all of Mr Assange on that balcony with him on some correspondent, sue relatively incremental movements in these on story while he was holed up in the embassy J foreign correspondent Filipina. Gms is saying every twist in tune fills, banning the bureau in London this week, I've been involved with it all the way along from the beginning from the first time that he was charged. I was at the magistrates court in Westminster. It's selling ago is two thousand and ten that the actual court doesn't exist anymore. It's been moved somewhere. Else. And when he first appeared, he had this huge country, several hundred people supporting him and everywhere he went he could attract a lodge crowd, including celebrities, Jemima Khan others that believed in his cause. But as time drifted by as those months in the Ecuadorian embassy became years interest dropped off people started to desert him, and I think increasingly he's felt more and more as times calling home. And now I was at today, there was a few dozen supporters maybe certainly ni- big names really? It's interesting. Do you think he was a divisive figure from the start a think that, that to do what he's done requires a certain personality? And he's, he's a very intense gov individual a couple of times. And he's very certain that. He's right. And I think that probably turns people off a bit of a time. So he's not not an easy. Personality, that's completely removed from any judgment about Hema what he's done. But he is a difficult personality. And I think that it's hard to keep supporting someone if, if you kind of have a separation, if you don't actually like him, and that is part of his problem. But in terms of, you know, the, the cases that he he's faces possible extradition to Sweden possible extradition to the United States, that's a completely separate matter. And I think we should always be very careful to separate, you know, those legal issues and how you feel about the man personally, I found myself in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago. This was my first time reporting on Julian Assange, it was he that Swedish prosecutors made the monumental decision to reopen ripe investigation probable cause to suspect that mistress Sange committed three an offense of the London bureau has also reported on Sanjay's health concerns for several years. Forty-three rolled confirm. His health had suffered while in the embassy. But did not comment on reports. He had developed he supported say. He's physical health is deteriorating quickly. Does it surprise you that some of his supporters, and lawyers, and now very concerned for his health after that time in the embassy, McGovern was said that if anyone was ever designed to be able to survive in seven years in a darkened room with a computer for company? It's him, but even even he succumbed. I mean you could see, you know, the effect of not getting sunlight in the vitamin d yet the have a sun lamp, he had an exercise but to, to try and keep fit. But it took its toll. You could say that, and psychologically, even he, I think, in a couldn't in the end tolerate that, that 'isolation. I mean his visitors started to be restricted. He's still had some a couple of celebs, it used to come and see him. Pamela Anderson as a big fan, of course and a regular visitor. You can't be stuck effective. -vely in one or two rooms for seven years, and, and expect to come out psychologically, undamaged. You know this man, that has dominated reporting life either. I've nearly ten years. And of course, now sits in Belmarsh, prison, and faces the possibility of the rest of his life in a, a US jail. It's his situation has gone from pretty bad being stuck in that embassy to absolutely die considering what he might face in the future. We legs describes his cases, one of major historical significance. The will surely be there to say how it all unfolds. No doubt about that Bridget Brennan with that report.

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