So the clock is ticking until Chelsea Manning is freed from Fort Leavenworth and is ready to set forth on the massive public relations tour which is sure to follow. (And probably a guest analyst gig at MSNBC. Mark that one on your calendar because I called it first.) And with his release, we should be getting our hands on Julian Assange at long last, right? Didn’t I hear something about a deal in the works?

As it turns out… not so much. It looks like there weren’t enough goodies being put on the table by American officials and the Wikileaks founder will be staying right where he is. (The Independent)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has broken his pledge to travel to the United States if whistleblower Chelsea Manning was pardoned.

He said would only go only if he receives assurances from the US Department of Justice about what – if any – charges he would face.

The Australian computer programmer took sanctuary in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been questioned on allegations of rape.

He fears the Scandinavian country would then extradite him to the US on what he calls “politically motivated” espionage charges.

It sounds like Assange had some sort of built-in excuse ready to go. Perhaps it was because he specified a “pardon” for Manning when he tweeted his offer and this was technically a commutation. Even with that linguistic trick, he’d been making noises as if a deal might still be in the works, but he was clearly asking the United States to guarantee precisely what would happen to him when he arrived and what, if any, charges he would be facing. If the demand was that he would only show up if he never saw the inside of a courtroom, I doubt there ever anything being suggested that he would have accepted.

When we talked about this before I expressed skepticism over the idea that Assange had any intention of turning himself in unless it involved some seriously tin foil hat level conspiracy deal. Even when a simpler option presented itself, Ed Morrissey noted that his “willingness” to be extradited had some serious “buts” involved. It doesn’t seem to be in his nature. What he loves more than anything else is a good headline, promotion for his website and having people pay attention to him. All of that could come screaming to a halt if he wound up in a small cell in a federal penitentiary.

But his behavior does seem to be becoming increasingly erratic. Is Assange starting to lose his grip on reality? He’s been in that embassy for years now, never getting the chance to step further outside than a balcony. I’m sure the facilities are very nicely appointed and he has access to some decent food, but still… that’s got to take a toll on a person after a while. I’ve spent as much as five months at sea on an aircraft carrier without touching land and even after that amount of time I felt like I was starting to lose my marbles. Could Julian be sinking down into some form of dementia?

Time will tell. But unless he slips up or the Ecuadorians are suddenly willing to cut some sort of deal, I doubt we’ll be getting our hands on him any time soon.