Julian Assange Paranoid, on the Run
WikiLeaks founder dyeing his hair, sleeping on floors
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2010 3:26 PM CDT
Founder of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange, speaks during a press conference in London, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010.   (AP Photo/Lennart Preiss)

(Newser) – The picture the New York Times paints of Julian Assange is one dripping in paranoia. John Burns and Ravi Somaiya describe the WikiLeaks founder as "moving like a hunted man"—speaking in whispers, churning through pricey encrypted cell phones, booking hotel rooms under false names, sleeping on floors, dyeing his hair, paying only in cash. The behavior comes as the Pentagon weighs his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act, as "about a dozen" volunteers have left him, and as he tries to find refuge, somewhere.

Sweden rejected his residence bid. His British visa expires in a few months. He worries that Britain, where his Australian passport legally allows him to stay for six months, and Iceland, another country with "generous press freedoms," are no longer viable options due to their strong ties to Washington. Late last month, while traveling from Stockholm to Berlin, his checked bag, which contained three encrypted laptops, disappeared; Assange believes it was intercepted. He's still being investigated in connection with rape allegations. “When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like,” he says.