A court sketch of Julian Assange (Image: Elizabeth Cook/PA via AP)

“He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy,” may be what finally gets inscribed on the tombstone of Julian Assange. History has a habit of serving up tarnished heroes, much as we’d prefer it otherwise.

Like anyone who attains the status of iconic mystery, Assange -- not actually seen freely moving in public in a decade -- has become less person and more mirror, reflecting the meanings we choose to attach to him and his experiences. What he actually thinks is known only to him, and his lawyers presumably.

The UK High Court’s decision to reverse a lower judge and affirm that Assange can be extradited to the United States where he faces espionage charges over the 2010 WikiLeaks publication of classified intelligence files, has brought Assange back into the spotlight. He’ll try another appeal, no doubt, but it’s looking bad for him now. A long stint in a US federal prison is very much on the cards.