"HE CAN DO WHAT HE NEEDS"

"It's pretty tight. He's divided the room up with a bookcase into a sleeping part and a non-sleeping part," said Smith.

"The key thing is he can work. He can hold meetings, he can invite some people in. He can do what he needs to do."

Ecuador granted him asylum on the grounds that Assange might be sent from Sweden to the United States to face WikiLeaks-related charges. Britain will not let him go to Ecuador from the embassy because its courts ruled he should be sent to Stockholm.

Assange's mother Christine, speaking by telephone from Australia, told Reuters she had received personal assurances from Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino that her son would be made as comfortable as possible during his stay.

"As far as the embassy staff go they have been wonderful. The people are extremely nice. Ecuadorean people are genuinely warm. They're making sure he's got good food, he's warm and comfortable," she said.

Christine and Julian Assange speak on the phone when possible but she said their conversations were limited because, she believed, the lines were being monitored.

"There's very little we can say to each other which is personal," she said. "So it's really cut down the traction we can have. But we have a close relationship."

The embassy - which lists its official address as "Flat 3B, 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1" - is on the first floor of a six-storey mansion block, a style of brick apartment building popular around the turn of the last century in London. The block also hosts the Colombian embassy and private apartments.

The Ecuadorean embassy has no outside space beyond narrow balconies, rendering sunshine scarce for long-term inhabitants. WikiLeaks staff emerging from the building last week told supporters camped outside that Assange had a vitamin D lamp inside the room where he was living.

The block is across the street from the rear of Harrods, the luxury department store which draws thousands of shoppers and tourists daily. The store has a loading bay right next door to the embassy and movements of Harrods' trademark olive green trucks and vans have on occasion been blocked by throngs of Assange supporters and news crews filling the street.

Inside, unseen, Assange remains busy at his computer.

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