A UK Foreign Office minister has offered cupboard-dwelling WikiLeaker Julian Assange access to medical attention if he leaves Ecuador's London embassy.
Sir Alan Duncan told Parliament this afternoon that the British government is "increasingly concerned" about Assange's health.
"It is our wish that this can be brought to an end and we'd like to make the assurance that if [Assange] were to step out of the embassy, he would be treated humanely and properly and that the first priority would be to look after his health, which we think is deteriorating," Sir Alan told the House of Commons earlier today.
"Of course, he's in the embassy of his own choice," the minister added.
Sir Alan's statement about Assange's supposedly deteriorating health is intriguing for Assange watchers. When Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot KO'd Jules's last attempt to walk free from the embassy in February, she summarised his health as it was back then:
Mr Assange is fortunately in relatively good physical health. He has a serious tooth problem and is in need of dental treatment and needs an MRI scan on a shoulder which has been described as frozen. I accept he has depression and suffers respiratory infections.
For his part, Assange's Twitter operatives (he himself no longer has internet access – see below) took the news in the same sort of vein that the man himself would probably have done:
Are UK-US-Ecuador cooking up a deal to abrogate Ecuador's asylum obligations to @JulianAssange on 'health' grounds?— #FreeAssange! (tweets by campaign)⌛ (@JulianAssange) June 26, 2018
This is the same minister who just a few months ago called @JulianAssange a 'miserable worm'.
Assange fled to Ecuador's embassy in 2012, in the hope of dodging an EU arrest warrant that was issued over allegations that he raped a woman in Sweden. The chief WikiLeaker has always said he feared the allegations were a way of getting him into the legal clutches of a country that might turn a blind eye if he disappeared and reappeared in an American prison.
The warrant has since expired, though the British state wants to bang him up anyway for jumping bail to hide out in the embassy. The maximum sentence for breaching bail in England and Wales is six months of stripey suntan time; Assange has now spent nearly five times that long living in someone else's broom cupboard.
Ecuador has given Assange asylum ever since he arrived, though in recent years it has become increasingly fed up with his presence.
In March, Ecuador changed their embassy's Wi-Fi password after Jules's infamous Twitter rants allegedly "put our good relations with the United Kingdom and the rest of states in the European Union at risk", according to the South American nation. It later emerged that they had spent $5m on security for Assange, his visitors and his web connection, with The Guardian newspaper alleging that an ungrateful Jules went on to compromise the embassy's satellite internet service to read messages intended for diplomats. WikiLeaks strongly denied those allegations on Assange's behalf.
Assange's website, WikiLeaks, has published tens of thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables that exposed the very heart of Obama-era America's foreign policy and diplomatic machinations. Some Americans believe that Assange is a traitor, a crime that still carries the death penalty in the US. ®