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A whole new world – how life has changed while Julian Assange was holed up

The WikiLeaks founder first sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (PA)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (PA)

It has been almost seven years since Julian Assange, and until last year his cat, first sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Since June 2012, a lot has changed in the UK and across the world.

There was a different Pope, a different Archbishop of Canterbury, and Prince Harry was a single man.

Stars including David Bowie were still alive back in 2012, when Assange first sought asylum (PA/Myung Jung Kim)

Nelson Mandela, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Neil Armstrong, David Bowie and Gene Wilder were all still alive.

Barack Obama and David Cameron were both in their respective first terms as US President and Prime Minister, while nobody had even coined the term Brexit.

Though leaving the European Union was just a glint in the eyes of several Conservative backbenchers, 2012 saw the push for Scottish independence, led by then First Minister Alex Salmond.

Alex Salmond on the independence campaign trail, back in 2012 (PA Danny Lawson)

His successor, Nicola Sturgeon, is again pushing for Scottish independence because of Brexit, while Mr Salmond now works for Russia Today, the Russian state broadcaster.

Chris Grayling was still a Conservative minister and perhaps the most explosive political story we could look forward to was Tory MP Andrew Mitchell allegedly calling a police officer a “pleb”.

June also saw Vladimir Putin in his new role as president of Russia, after serving four years as prime minister, a role which he holds to this day.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin (PA/Matt Cardy)

Angela Merkel was only halfway through her tenure as Chancellor of Germany, and Donald Trump dropped out of the 2012 US presidential election, saying: “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election.”

When Assange first entered the Ecuadorian embassy, computers were only running Windows 7, and during his time holed up there, there have been 16 types of iPhones.

Uber had not yet launched in London, and Deliveroo did not exist. This was an  era when Tindern has just launched, when people mainly still met each other in bars, clubs or through friends.

Tinder was a little-known app that had just been launched in 2012 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The UK had only just got Netflix, the Simpsons was only in its 23rd Season, and the first Avengers film had just been released.

The UK charts saw Cheryl Cole, Coldplay and Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band all in the top five.

Since then, a judge ruled that Gary Barlow had been engaging in tax avoidance schemes, Cheryl Cole has re-married, divorced and had a child with One Direction star Liam Payne, while Coldplay have gone on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide.



From Belfast Telegraph