Assange's embassy cat was "adored and looked after extremely well," a friend says

By Phil Boucher Adam Carlson
April 11, 2019 03:13 PM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lived almost entirely in isolation during his seven years in asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — except for a cat he adopted in 2016 and who then racked up thousands of followers on social media.

Now, in the wake of his arrest Thursday morning, those same feline fans are wondering: What will become of “Embassy Cat,” whose Instagram bio joked “interested in counter-purrveillance”?

One user tweeted: “What I really need to know is what’s going to happen to #Assange’s bow tie cat.”

A friend of the 47-year-old Assange tells PEOPLE the cat, whom he “adored and looked after extremely well,” will now “be looked after by friends.”

Information about the pet cat has conflicted before. Journalist James Ball tweeted Thursday that the cat “was reportedly given to a shelter by the Ecuadorian embassy ages ago” and an Italian news outlet reported in November that Assange’s cat was gone: “[He] has preferred to spare the cat an isolation which has become unbearable and allow it a healthier life.”

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Julian Assange's cat is seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August
Stephen Chung/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Assange’s arrest on Thursday brought his hermit-like existence in the embassy where he hid (from pending arrest in an unrelated case) to an abrupt end.

He now faces extradition to the United States where he is accused of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in connection with Chelsea Manning’s release of thousands of secret government documents.

Speaking on the steps of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon, his attorney Jennifer Robinson said his first words to her were “I told you so.” His legal team has described the American prosecution as an attack on press freedoms — though the charge against him, conspicuously, is not based on his actual publication of any material.

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Assange is next due to appear at Southwark Crown Court in London on May 2. The U.S. government must bring forward extradition papers by June 12.

Assange’s arrest was made possible after Ecuador revoked his asylum for “repeatedly violating international conventions.”

His relationship with his protectors had grown more and more tense. Last year Ecuador barred him from using the internet and ordered him to take better care of his bathroom and his pet cat, according to USA Today.