Julian Assnage: 16 Months Inside the Embassy

Julian Assange addresses press and supporters from the embassy balcony

The Fifth Estate is now in theaters and millions of movie-goers will see a dramatic and thrilling portrayal of a story that is very much still being written. They will see the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Quick Background: Julian Assange is the creator of WikiLeaks, a website that has leaked countless classified materials exposing secrets of governments around the world, most notably the United States of America. Assange, a citizen of Australia, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, UK, since June 19, 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case.

When I studied in London last fall, I had the opportunity to document the standoff between Assange and police. I took photos outside the embassy and at protests, I interviewed police and supporters, and I put it all together into an interactive presentation for a final project for my photojournalism class.  I’m hoping these images will give you a glimpse of the real life situation behind the film.



On December 21, the night before I flew back to the United States, Julian Assange made his second live appearance to his supporters and the press from the balcony of the embassy.

My Bed

This is my bed.

My bed might seem like an odd thing to write about. It’s just where I sleep, right? It’s just MY bed.

I was told time and time again in our pre-departure meetings how small our living accommodations would be in London. Fr. Soukup would say “You’ll be living in the same neighborhood as some of the royalty, you just won’t have nearly as much space as them.” He was right.

I live in a flat (apartment) with 11 people in total, and I share a bedroom with two others. 5 guys, 6 girls, 6 bedrooms (3 of which are singles, all occupied by girls, 3 bathrooms, 1 kitchen/living room, 1 couch, 6 chairs, and a long narrow hallway connecting it all. If we all want to watch TV at the same time, we can’t. If we all want to do homework at the same time (which we do get every once in a while), we can’t. Really, the only thing we can all do at the same time is sleep.

This is a huge contrast from the past two years of my life at Santa Clara. I’ve been lucky enough to have my own room with my own desk, chair, even a couch for part of the time, and also two of my very own offices (one at Santa Clara in the yearbook office and one at Adobe) with more chairs and desk space (2 desks actually) than I knew what to do with. Having my own room actually allowed me to work more often and more effectively and, ironically, to sleep less.

Now that I am in London, my single bedroom and two offices have been replaced solely by my bed actually just the top half of my bunk bed.

Since, I’m on the top and can’t reach my nightstand, I sleep with my computer and phone right next to me with their charging cords stretched over to the wall. Thankfully I haven’t knocked either of them off yet.

Though I’m making this out to be sort of an extreme, I think all of the students that are here from SCU are realizing this cultural difference of using shared space much more than personal space. I’ve done homework outside in the park, in the stairwell, at a pub, at the Imperial College Library (when I can talk the guard into a one time guest pass), and in the basement of my building. I do all of my yearbook meetings with Nellie, Samantha, and Robert via Skype either on my bedroom floor or in the stairwell. My video meetings for Adobe usually happen on my bedroom floor or in the kitchen with both computers in front of me (I’m sure the ergonomics specialists would not approve).

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350 muslims protest before US embassy

US embassies all around the world faced protestors and demonstrators this past weekend and the embassy in London was no exception.

On Sunday, September 16 at 2:30pm around 350 demonstrators showed up in Grosvenor Square right in front of the US Embassy in London to condemn the recent film that insulted the Prophet Mohammed. This protest, which was organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir and sanctioned by British police, remained peaceful and there were no arrests, unlike the demonstration two days prior in the same location. Several speakers took the microphone giving speeches and inciting chants telling America to get out of Muslim lands.

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First Day in London

Just a few minutes after taking off over the San Francisco Bay. Oakland is towards the bottom of the photo.

At about 2:00 on Wednesday, September 5, I arrived at SFO and started running into other Santa Clara students also going to London right away. It was nice to find out my family wasn’t the only family that insisted on parking in an outrageously priced lot to walk me all the way to security to see me off (which was very nice). I had just enough time to grab a pizza for a late lunch, which would be my last real mean until dinner on Thursday.

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