In a long feature for this Sunday's NY Times Magazine, Times executive editor Bill Keller lays out the paper's relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who happily shared documents with the Times, the U.K's The Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel last summer (only to later criticize the publications). Keller offered what reporter Eric Schmitt thought when he first met Assange, "He’s tall — probably 6-foot-2 or 6-3 — and lanky, with pale skin, gray eyes and a shock of white hair that seizes your attention. He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days."

Keller also details Assange's unhappiness with various Times decisions—no link love from the Times' coverage to WikiLeaks, a profile of the Army private who leaked much of the information, and a profile of Assange—and Assange's transformation:

The derelict with the backpack and the sagging socks now wore his hair dyed and styled, and he favored fashionably skinny suits and ties. He became a kind of cult figure for the European young and leftish and was evidently a magnet for women. Two Swedish women filed police complaints claiming that Assange insisted on having sex without a condom; Sweden’s strict laws on nonconsensual sex categorize such behavior as rape, and a prosecutor issued a warrant to question Assange, who initially described it as a plot concocted to silence or discredit WikiLeaks.

I came to think of Julian Assange as a character from a Stieg Larsson thriller — a man who could figure either as hero or villain in one of the megaselling Swedish novels that mix hacker counterculture, high-level conspiracy and sex as both recreation and violation.


Well, it fits that WikiLeaks is being hosted out of a James Bond-like lair.