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24 Aug

The Ecuadorian Embassy in London is situated at the end of a wide brick lane, next to the Harrods department store, in Knightsbridge.Sometimes plainclothes police officers, or vans with tinted windows, can be found outside the building. Sometimes there is virtually no one, which was the case in June, 2012, when Julian Assange, the publisher of Wiki Leaks, arrived, disguised as a motorcycle courier, to seek political asylum.Assange knows the street artists and buskers there (for years, one has been playing the theme song to “Knots Landing” over and over).At the end of the block, the brick façade of the Embassy is visible—its tricolor flag hanging from the white Juliet balcony where, from time to time, Assange issues proclamations. “Then come in.” A guard inside the Embassy had me empty my pockets and my bag onto a coffee table, then scanned my body with a security wand.

The guard then directed me into a small conference room, closing the door behind me without giving any indication how long I could expect to wait. Khatchadourian,” he said, seriously, as he opened the door.

The easiest route to the Embassy, if you are using the London Underground, is through the Knightsbridge station, next to Harrods. Although Assange has remained in his sanctum for years, he is attuned to his immediate surroundings: real-estate ownership, the Lamborghinis parked nearby, the habits of Arab sheikhs descending on local night spots.

The lane between the station and the Embassy is packed with tourists.

“At one point, he was looking for an orthopedic doctor, and doctors were basically refusing to go in there,” Ben Griffin, a former British Special Forces soldier who volunteers as his personal trainer, told me.

As a precaution, Ecuador tried to negotiate a “safe passage” by which Assange could be admitted to a hospital without compromising his diplomatic protections, but the negotiations fell through.