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REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
What monster would fail to take care of this creature?
MEOW & ME

The strange, sad tale of Julian Assange’s cat

By Kabir Chibber

In 2016, Julian Assange got a cat.

Assange, who founded Wikileaks and has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, set up the cat with its own Twitter page, too, saying cutesy things like the feline is  ”interested in counter-purrveillance.” Assange said at the time that the cat was a gift from his children.

That was probably another of Assange’s many lies and manipulations. A source told the New Yorker (paywall) last year:

Julian stared at the cat for about half an hour, trying to figure out how it could be useful, and then came up with this: Yeah, let’s say it’s from my children. For a time, he said it didn’t have a name because there was a competition in Ecuador, with schoolchildren, on what to name him. Everything is P.R.—everything.

As well as lying about the cat’s origins, he’s leaving it lying around while he attempts to undermine the world’s democratically elected governments one by one. A leaked memo (link in Spanish, pdf) published by Ecuador’s Código Vidrio states that Assange must take charge of the “well-being, food, hygiene, and proper care” of his cat. If this did not improve, the embassy said the cat would given to someone else or to an animal shelter.

The new cat policy was one of a number of new house rules at the embassy, which returned Assange partial internet access but told him he could not to do anything “considered as political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states.” (His internet privileges were taken away in March for breaching this rule.)

According to the Guardian, Assange must also keep the bathroom clean and pay for his own upkeep–food, laundry, and such—starting Dec. 1. Failure to follow any of these new rules could result in loss of diplomatic asylum, which had cost the UK more than £10 million (currently $13.1 million) in 24-hour police guard until that was removed in 2015.

The fact that the cat doesn’t seem to have a proper name should have been among the first signs that Assange didn’t really care too much about it. Assange told the New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian the cat’s name is Michi, which is Ecuadorian Spanish for “cat.” (And, in any case, a terrible name.) But it was also call “Cat-stro” after the death of Fidel Castro.

There has as yet been no comment on the new measures by the cat on its Twitter feed.