Christine Assange, mother of Julian, tugged at our heartstrings a couple of weeks ago - as was her intention - when she was depicted in the news media holding up a photograph of her son at four years of age.
What a happy, innocent little chap he seemed to be, and how obvious the distress in his mother's face. What anguish he must have caused her, as must any son who goes forth into the world determined to slay dragons and vanquish the evildoers. If she could have foreseen what would become of him 40 or so years later, she would probably have done her best to set him on a different path, all those years ago in Townsville, Queensland, and not to buy him that computer.
This week it seems that Christine Assange's mission to Quito last month has been successful, with Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, stating on Thursday that his country will grant her son political asylum. But Julian Assange is unlikely to get that far, with Britain insisting on his extradition to Sweden - and Sweden and the United States maintaining a puzzling silence on the subject of whether he could indeed be extradited to the latter.
Assange's fear that Sweden will hand him over to the likes of Dick Cheney may not be so paranoid after all, but he should nevertheless go to Stockholm, where he faces defendable charges of sexual assault. Sweden has far greater reason to file charges against Assange than does the United States, which cannot try him for treason as he is not a US citizen. However, the damage to Sweden's reputation, if it does send him there, would be immense - far greater than the damage to Assange's reputation caused by his undignified attempts to stay the hell away from Stockholm.
Instead, his protracted efforts to avoid standing trial in Sweden have tarnished his cause and probably discredited him. It would have been easy to believe Assange is indeed a hero of the new information age if he had arrived at court in Stockholm of his own free will. Instead, he has resorted to every possible means not to face his accusers, like a naughty little boy hiding behind his mother's skirts.
Alex Lo is on leave