Ever since Julian Assange and WikiLeaks rose to fame, Michel Elefteriades – the self-proclaimed “Emperor of Nowheristan" – has been intrigued by the enigma of the Australian journalist and activist.
Elefteriades – a Lebanese producer, controversial artist, and eccentric promoter – might have been drawn to the "madness" of the feisty Assange. He tells Al-Akhbar that he wanted to meet him to form his own personal opinion about the man, away from how the media portrays him.
Thus, Elefteriades packed his bags and flew to London to meet Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy last week.
Elefteriades speaks about his adventure upon his arrival at the embassy where "British intelligence elements were scattered in front of the building," while stressing that Assange was not talking to the press these days.
Assange has been staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in the British capital since seeking political asylum there to avoid his deportation to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault charges. He is, however, seriously concerned that he would be handed over to the United States where he faces charges related to posting confidential government documents on WikiLeaks.
Elefteriades remains tight-lipped on the details of his two-hour meeting with Assange. But he sums up the opinion he formed of the man. "I'm now convinced that Assange is an intelligent man with a strong personality," Elefteriades says. "He is highly cultured and is targeted by the imperialism embodied by the US."
After persistent attempts Elefteriades reveals a little of what he discussed with Assange. "It revolved around everything," he says. They talked about "the current developments in the Arab world, including Syria and Lebanon."
Elefteriades commends Assange's deep knowledge of events in this part of the world, saying that he knows "every little detail regarding what is happening in our region."
Elefteriades says that Assange reads Al-Akhbar English daily. He also adds that the founder of WikiLeaks apparently agrees with him – and many others – that there is blatant Western interference in the Syrian issue, and that what is happening in Lebanon is merely a continuation of the campaign against the resistance project since 2006.
Elefteriades also notes the difficult psychological state of Assange. He says it is now "certain that Sweden wants to hand him over to the United States to try him on terrorism charges, which carries the death penalty.”
“He lives in a state of limbo, especially since he does not know if Ecuador will grant him political asylum," Elefteriades explains.
He adds that after meeting Assange, he has become more convinced of his innocence. "He is a brave man struggling for a better world," Elefteriades says. "He believes in human values and works on uncovering conspiracies being concocted in powerful capitals."
The Lebanese businessman sees Assange as being targeted by "American Imperialism" after WikiLeaks disclosed its operating methods. He believes the US wants to prevent the WikiLeaks experience from spreading across the world by subduing Assange and making an example out of him.