Reykjavik, Iceland. Just before WikiLeaks founder and director Julian Assange was taken into custody Thursday by the British government, the WikiLeaks editorial staff in Reykjavik began to record a conference call between the world's three most prominent exiles: Edward Snowden speaking from an undisclosed location in Moscow, Julian Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, and Etaoin Shrdlu in the Venezuelan embassy in Ottawa, where he took refuge after releasing the unredacted Mueller Report. Their conversation is reprinted here without redaction.
Snowden: Greetings to the two of you from Moscow. Even though it's April, spring hasn't arrived. I'm pretty much cooped-up in my room.
Assange: I'm cooped-up, as you say, in one room in the Ecuadoran embassy. I came here before the socialists lost power to a Trump-like Right wing president who wants to evict me.
Shrdlu: Ottawa is still in winter, or so it looks from my cell window. I call it a cell since they won't let me roam outside this little room. You're better off in Moscow. And I'm just a coup away from being sent back to the United States. And that coup gets closer every day.
Snowden: Well, I can leave my room, but I'm always under the threat that Putin will make a deal with Trump to send me back to the U.S. for trial. At least being in an embassy of a friendly power offers some protection.
Assange: Well, Ecuador was a friendly power when I moved in. But South American Leftists don't seem to last long once they take command, Castro aside. Look at what happened to Allende in Chile years ago, and what's about to happen to Maduro in Venezuela.
Shrdlu: The opposition leader in Caracas has already announced that he'll extradite me to Trump, if they don't kill me first. After Istanbul, we know what can happen in an embassy, even to a guy who's been invited in.
Snowden: Putin isn't a Leftist about to lose power, but he's a Right-winger who's pretty chummy with Trump. Putin won't give me permanent asylum, which means he might just trade me to Trump for one of the Russian spies the Americans have caught lately. But why didn't you guys choose the Cuban embassy instead of the ones you went to?
Shrdlu: My taxi driver didn't know where the Cuban embassy was, but he had a girlfriend working for the Venezuelans. That's why I'm here.
Assange: I released some stuff that was detrimental to the Castros. Cuba wouldn't take me. The socialists had just taken over Ecuador. Seemed like I could make a deal with Britain or Sweden and be out in a few days. Didn't work out that way and I've been here seven years. Now I'll spend the rest of my life at Guantanamo if I try to leave."
At this point, the conversation was interrupted by British police amid an uproar that made it nearly impossible to hear anything. Then came a booming voice of a police officer.
Police Officer: Mr. Assange, you are under arrest for bail violation. You're going to jail, then to court.
A great commotion. Assange is heard kicking and screaming as he is physically dragged from his embassy room. "They'll send me to the U.S. They'll send me to the U.S. It's a Trump plot." Then his phone went dead.
Shrdlu, overwhelmed: That could be me in a few days. All it takes is for Trump to send troops and planes into Venezuela and Maduro will fall, then the Right-wingers will turn me over to Trump.
Snowden: Can't they sneak you out in a trash barrel and get you to the Cuban embassy?
Shrdlu: I thought of that, too, but this place is so poor, that they don't have trash barrels. I may have to make a run for it, literally, but I now know where the Cuban embassy is, and it ain't close.
Snowden: Well, at least Assange is alive, unlike that journalist you referred to in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
Shrdlu: Embassies are supposed to be safe havens, not a place to send you to heaven.
Snowden: Got to go. I heard a knock at my door. Can't be good news.
Shrdlu: Good luck.