Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, has been living in refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England for the past 3 and a half years.
Why? Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over alleged sex assaults. The Ecuadorian government has said he can stay in their embassy for as long as he likes. Assange faces arrest if he leaves the building. He hasn’t been outside for any length, save some time spent on a balcony he has access to, and he doesn’t have in-person contact with anyone but occasional visitors, and the people he sees inside the embassy.
So what has all this done to Assange’s health?
A report on BBC cites a few things that could cause problems. A vitamin D deficiency is highly possible, with low levels of exposure to sunlight. And with this can come aches and pains, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Assange can take his vitamin D orally in a tablet form, but scientists still aren’t sure if humans can get all they need in a tablet, as a opposed to the benefits of getting vitamin D from the sun.
Assange always has the option to use a sunlamp for his sunshine, and seems to have one but using one of these over a prolonged period of time can cause skin cancer.
So there are some physical hurdles to endure.
But one of the biggest drawbacks of staying indoors for a long period of time can be a flattening of mood, said Simon Griffin, professor of general practice at Cambridge University, when speaking to the BBC.
Sunlight makes people feel happier, and a lack of it can cause a feeling of depression and boredom to set in. Being isolated from the outside world can also contribute to these negative feelings, making the conditions of staying indoors so long seem like a bit of a prison.
Which brings the question- is staying in the embassy any different than the life that would result for Assange if he left?
Perhaps it’s a matter of principle- but a little sunlight would be nice.