Julian Assange

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Julian Assange
Julian Assange - 9060712888 (cropped).jpg
Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, London (June 2013)
Born (1971-07-03) 3 July 1971 (age 43)
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Residence Embassy of Ecuador, London, United Kingdom
Nationality Australian
Occupation Editor-in-chief and spokesman for WikiLeaks
Home town Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971, Townsville, Queensland) is an Australian publisher and journalist, best known as the editor-in-chief of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, which he co-founded in 2006 after an earlier career in hacking and programming. WikiLeaks achieved particular prominence in 2010 when it published U.S. military and diplomatic documents leaked by Chelsea Manning. Assange has been under investigation in the United States since that time. In the same year, the Swedish Director of Public Prosecution opened a preliminary investigation into sexual offences that Assange is alleged to have committed.[1] In 2012, facing extradition to Sweden, he took refuge at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He was granted political asylum by Ecuador and currently lives in the Embassy.

Early life

Assange was born in Townsville.

Assange was born in the north Queensland city of Townsville[2][3] to Christine Ann Assange (née Hawkins) (b. 1951),[4] an aspiring visual artist[5][6] who "had modelled and acted,"[7] and John Shipton, an anti-war activist, builder, and onetime architecture student.[8] The couple ended their relationship early in the pregnancy.[8]

When he was a year old, his mother married Richard Brett Assange,[9][10][11][12] an actor,[13] with whom she ran "a small eccentric theatre company,"[14] "presenting children's theatre and political agitprop,"[15] and "later involving puppets."[16] They divorced around 1979, and Assange's mother then became involved with Leif Meynell, also known as Leif Hamilton, a member of the Australian New Age group The Family, with whom she had a son before the couple broke up in 1982.[2][15][17][18] Owing partly to his mother's wanderlust, partly to her work, and partly to her later fear of Meynell-Hamilton,[17][19] Assange had a nomadic childhood, and had lived in over thirty[20][21] different Australian towns from coast to coast[22][23] by the time he reached his mid-teens, when he settled with his mother and half-brother in Melbourne, Victoria.[9][24]

He attended many schools, including Goolmangar Primary School in New South Wales (1979–1983)[14] and Townsville State High School,[25] as well as being schooled at home.[10] He studied programming, mathematics, and physics at Central Queensland University (1994),[26] the University of Melbourne (2003–2006),[9][15][20][27][28] and possibly others[29] but did not complete a degree.[30]

Hacking

In 1987, Assange began hacking under the name Mendax (from Horace's splendide mendax: "nobly untruthful").[10][31] He and two others—known as Trax and Prime Suspect—formed an ethical hacking group they called the International Subversives.[10] During this time he hacked into the Pentagon and other U.S. Department of Defense facilities, MILNET, the U.S. Navy, NASA, and Australia's Overseas Telecommunications Commission; Citibank, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Panasonic, and Xerox; and the Australian National University, La Trobe University, and Stanford University's Stanford Research Institute.[10][32][33][34] He is thought to have been involved in the WANK (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) hack at NASA in 1989, but he does not acknowledge this.[35][36]

In September 1991, he was discovered hacking into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel, a Canadian multinational telecommunications.[10] The Australian Federal Police tapped Assange's phone line (he was using a modem), raided his home at the end of October,[37][38] and eventually charged him in 1994 with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes.[10] Trax and Prime Suspect were each charged with a smaller number of offences.[39] In December 1996, he pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges (the other six were dropped), and was ordered to pay reparations of A$2,100 and released on a good behaviour bond,[10][35][40][41][42][43] avoiding a heavier penalty due to the perceived absence of malicious or mercenary intent and his disrupted childhood.[40][41][44][45] After the trial, Assange lived in Melbourne, where he survived on single-parent income support.[42][46]

Programming

In 1993, Assange gave technical advice to the Victoria Police Child Exploitation Unit and assisted with prosecutions.[47] In the same year he was involved in starting one of the first public internet service providers in Australia, Suburbia Public Access Network.[9][48] He began programming in 1994, authoring the TCP 'half-open' port scanner (a type of stealth TCP/IP network reconnaissance tool) strobe.c (1995),[49][50] patches to the open-source database PostgreSQL (1996),[51][52] the Usenet caching software NNTPCache (1996),[53] the Rubberhose deniable encryption system (1997),[54][55] which reflected his growing interest in cryptography,[56] and Surfraw, a command-line interface for web-based search engines (2000).[57] During this period he also moderated the AUCRYPTO forum,[56] ran Best of Security, a website "giving advice on computer security" that had 5,000 subscribers in 1996,[46] and contributed research to Suelette Dreyfus's Underground (1997), a book about Australian hackers, including the International Subversives.[31][58] In 1998, he co-founded the company Earthmen Technology.[44]

In 1999, he registered the domain leaks.org, but, as he put it, "I didn't do anything with it."[27][44][59] He did, however, publicise a patent granted to the National Security Agency in August 1999 for voice-data harvesting technology: "This patent should worry people. Everyone's overseas phone calls are or may soon be tapped, transcribed and archived in the bowels of an unaccountable foreign spy agency."[56] This would remain an abiding concern, to which he returned more than a decade later in Cypherpunks (2012), foreseeing a dystopian future in which, "the Internet, our greatest tool for emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen".[60]

WikiLeaks

Assange, c. 2006
Main article: WikiLeaks

After his period of study at the University of Melbourne, Assange and others established WikiLeaks in 2006. Assange is a member of the organisation's advisory board[61] and describes himself as the editor-in-chief.[62] From this time on he was continuously on the move, with periods in Kenya,[21][63] Tanzania,[63] Egypt,[64] France,[63] Germany[64][65] (2007–2008); Austria,[66] Spain,[67] Malaysia,[68] Denmark[69] (2009); Iceland,[10][64][70] the United States,[71][72][73] Norway,[74] Australia,[73] Belgium,[75][76] Sweden,[77] and the United Kingdom[78][79] (2010). The purpose was to develop the organisation’s infrastructure, promote its activities at conferences and through the media, and further his editorial work.

WikiLeaks posted large amounts of material exposing government and corporate wrongdoing between 2006 and 2009, attracting various degrees of publicity.[80] But it was only when it began publishing documents supplied by Chelsea Manning that Wikileaks became a household name.[81] The Manning material included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), an edited version of which was viewed 14.5 million times on YouTube over the next four years,[82] the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), a quarter of a million diplomatic cables (November 2010), and the Guantánamo files (April 2011).

WikiLeaks was criticised by Amnesty International and other human rights groups for failing to remove all identifying information from the Afghanistan war logs, beyond those 15,000 reports already withhold.[83] Despite withholding some 15,000 incident reports for "safety reasons," thousands of documents in the Wikileaks Afghan war log do identify Afghans by name, family, location, and ideology. The Taliban issued a warning to Afghans, alleged in the log to have worked as informers for the NATO-led coalition, that "US spies" will be hunted down and punished, indicating they will investigate the named individuals before deciding on their fate. Asked what he thought of the dangers to those families created by the release of their personal information, Assange claimed that many informers in Afghanistan were "acting in a criminal way" by sharing false information with NATO authorities. He insisted that any risk to informants’ lives was outweighed by the overall importance of publishing the information.[84][85] Wikileaks took greater care with the Iraq war logs,[86] and set to do the same with the diplomatic cables until the cables had became available online, fully unredacted.[87] In response, WikiLeaks decided on 1 September 2011 to also publish the 251,287 unedited documents after getting the go-ahead from his Twitter followers.[88][89]

Opinions of Assange at this time were divided. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described his activities as "illegal,"[90] only to be told that he had broken no Australian law.[91] U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and others called him a "terrorist."[92][93][94][95][96] Four people, including Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Canadian prime minister, called for his assassination or execution,[97][98][99][100] with two of these later regretting their statements.[100][101] Support came from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,[102][103] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,[104][105] and activists and celebrities including Tariq Ali,[106] the Electronic Frontier Foundation's John Perry Barlow,[107] Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg,[108][109] the Swedish Pirate Party's Rick Falkvinge,[110][111] Bianca Jagger,[112] Jemima Khan[113] (who has since had a change of heart),[114] Mary Kostakidis,[115] Ken Loach,[113] Michael Moore,[116][117] John Pilger,[113][118][119] the Frontline Club's Vaughan Smith,[120][121] Oliver Stone,[117] and Naomi Wolf.[122][123][124]

The annus mirabilis of 2010 culminated with the Sam Adams Award, which Assange accepted in October,[125] and a string of distinctions in December—the Le Monde readers' choice award for person of the year,[126][127] the Time readers' choice award for person of the year (he was also a runner-up in Time's overall person of the year award),[128][129] a deal for his autobiography worth at least US$1.3 million,[130][131][132] and selection by the Italian edition of Rolling Stone as "rockstar of the year."[133][134]

The following February he won the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal for Peace with Justice, previously awarded to only three people—Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Buddhist spiritual leader Daisaku Ikeda.[135] Two weeks later he filed for the trademark "Julian Assange" in Europe, which was to be used for "Public speaking services; news reporter services; journalism; publication of texts other than publicity texts; education services; entertainment services."[136][137][138] For several years a member of the Australian journalists' union and still an honorary member,[139][140][141] he picked up the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in June,[142][143] and the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in November,[144][145] having earlier won the Amnesty International UK Media Award (New Media) in 2009.[146] Three books about him were published during 2011: WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding (February);[147] The Most Dangerous Man in the World by Andrew Fowler (April);[148] and Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography by Andrew O'Hagan (September).[149]

Financial matters become uncertain after MasterCard and Visa suspended donations to Wikileaks after 2010.[150] The Wau Holland Foundation received €1.33 million in 2010, €139,000 in 2011 and €69,000 in 2012, of which WikiLeaks spent €1.45 million over the same period, leaving a balance of €85,000 with Wau Holland as 2013 began.[151] Assange described it as "economic censorship outside the judicial system" performed by the US.[150]

U.S. legal position

After WikiLeaks released the Manning material, there were two avenues open to U.S. authorities under the Espionage Act of 1917 — they might try to prosecute Assange for publishing it, or they might try to prosecute him for inciting, abetting, or conspiring with Manning to obtain it.[152]

The difficulty with the first approach was that the Manning material had been carried by many media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian, and it would be untenable to pursue one without pursuing all.[153] Journalists and publishers in the U.S. are also protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, which makes it unlikely that such a prosecution would succeed.[154][155] WikiLeaks' First Amendment immunity was recognised as early as 2008 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Bank Julius Baer v. WikiLeaks.[156][157] No one has been put on trial simply for publishing the leaks.

The difficulty with the second approach was that the offence had to be proven. If it were, Assange could expect punishment proportional to Manning's thirty-five-year jail term.[158] The same precedent seemed to rule out the death penalty or transportation to Guantánamo,[159][160] concerns that had already been dismissed as "ridiculous."[159][161] In any event, there was no certainty that the U.S. government would get its way, as the example of Thomas Drake showed.[162][163][164]

In November 2010, U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder said there was "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into WikiLeaks.[165] It emerged from legal documents leaked over the ensuing months that Assange and others were being investigated by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, although it is unclear when it was impanelled (a vague reference in a leaked email from September 2010 to "grand jury matters" is inconclusive).[166][167][168] Like all grand juries, it was operating in camera, so there is no public record of its deliberations.

A one-line email from an employee of intelligence consultancy Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor) leaked in 2012 said, "We have a sealed indictment on Assange."[169] This has been dismissed as evidence of "how a Texas-based corporate research firm can get a little carried away in marketing itself,"[170] and, like all the leaked Stratfor material, as inconsequential and oversold "gossip."[170][171][172][173] There were other grounds for scepticism. First, the email was sent in January 2011, when the grand jury was still in its infancy, and before what appears to have been its main period of activity later that year.[174] Second, in December 2011, prosecution filings at a pre-trial hearing for Chelsea Manning indicated that there were no U.S. charges against Assange at that time.[174] Third, the grand jury was still impanelled in November 2013, nearly three years after the Stratfor employee boasted that charges had been finalised.[153] U.S. authorities have consistently denied the existence of such an indictment.[175][176]

Meanwhile, the argument that Assange and Manning were accomplices was being rehearsed by prosecutors in the Manning case, beginning at the pre-trial hearing in December 2011, when they revealed the existence of chat logs between Manning and a WikiLeaks interlocutor they claimed to be Assange.[177][178] He "flatly" denies this,[179][180] dismissing the alleged connection as "absolute nonsense."[181] The logs were presented as evidence (Exhibit 123)[182] during the court-martial in June–July 2013. The most significant exchange occurs on the afternoon of 8 March 2010, when Manning asks, "any good at lm hash cracking?", her interlocutor replies, "yes ... we have rainbow tables for lm," Manning sends a string of letters and numbers, and the interlocutor says, "passed it onto our lm guy."[182] The prosecution argued that this shows WikiLeaks helping Manning reverse-engineer a password.[183][184] The evidence that the interlocutor was Assange is circumstantial, however, and Manning insists she acted alone.[168] In January 2011, the U.S. military conceded that it had "been unable to make any direct connection between" the two.[181]

Assange was being examined separately by "several government agencies" in addition to the grand jury.[185] WikiLeaks stated that, "The CIA has publicly declared a WikiLeaks Task Force. Even earlier, the Pentagon publicly declared a 120-member operation into WikiLeaks working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.".[186] CIA officials described the goal to assess the impact of the Manning leaks, with the CIA task force looking at the diplomatic cables in the winter of 2010–2011, and minimize the risk of a new WikiLeaks-like leak,[187] and the Pentagon describing its mission as identify names and other "sensitive" information from the classified war logs of Iraq.[188] In 2010, Wikileaks published an 2008 Army Counterintelligence Center assessment report under the headline "U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks".[189] The report suggest to track down and punish whistleblowers in order to destroy the Wikileaks website as a trust center and deter new whistleblowers from using it.[190][191]

Prosecutors in the Manning case told another pre-trial hearing in June 2012 that the FBI file on the leaks contained 3,475 documents running to 42,135 pages, only a fifth of which were "germane to Pfc. Manning."[192] The rest were about others, no doubt including Assange. The U.S. government and legislators such as Senator Joe Lieberman also took aim at WikiLeaks itself, using "persuasion and pressure" to deny the organisation technical and financial services from American firms, including Amazon and PayPal.[193] While the government has been criticised for relying on bluff to get results it could not have achieved by court order,[193] Alasdair Roberts said it is likely that the firms involved had commercial and fiduciary reasons of their own for breaking with WikiLeaks.[194]

In August 2012, U.S. government officials were reported to be "divided over the wisdom of prosecuting Assange," and to have suggested that "the likelihood of U.S. criminal charges against him is probably receding rather than growing,"[175] but in June 2013 the Department of Justice confirmed that investigations were ongoing but declined adding any details.[185] By November 2013, officials were saying the department had "all but concluded" that it would not bring a case against Assange.[153] The focus of this concession was on the question of publication, and it was less clear whether the department had abandoned hope of prosecuting Assange for conspiring with Manning. That was the implication, but officials declined to say whether they were winding up the grand jury investigation, or even whether there would be an announcement should it be closed.[153]

On the 12th of July 2014, Politiken reported that Wikileaks had filed a criminal complaint against the FBI's illegal activities against it in Denmark, specifically demanding an investigation into Danish authorities' involvement as agents of the US and threatening to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.[195]

Swedish legal position

Demonstration in support of Assange in front of Sydney Town Hall, 10 December 2010

Assange is wanted for questioning over one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of lesser-degree rape (mindre grov våldtäkt)[196][197][198][199][200] alleged to have been committed against two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010.[77][201][202] The allegations relate to "non-consensual behaviour within consensual sexual encounters."[203] Assange denies the allegations as politically motivated.

The original prosecutor terminated the preliminary investigation, but after a request for a review from Claes Borgström, then acting as lawyer for the women, as well as being the Social Democratic Party's spokesperson on gender equality, the case was re-opened by Marianne Ny, Director of Public Prosecution.[196] Claes Borgström was subsequently denounced by his own client as more interested in media attention than providing legal representation and later replaced by Elisabeth Massi Fritz.[204]

Assange delivered himself to police custody in London on 7 December 2010[205] under a European Arrest Warrant issued on 18 November that year.[196][206] He was released on bail the following week.[207][208] Assange had appealed against the European Arrest Warrant, but this was rejected by the Svea Court of Appeal on 24 November 2010.[201][209][210]

Sweden's request for his extradition was upheld at hearings before the Westminster Magistrates' Court (February 2011),[211] the High Court (July 2011),[212] and the Supreme Court (February 2012).[213] The Supreme Court delivered its judgement on 30 May 2012 and granted Assange two weeks to make a case for reopening the appeal after his counsel raised fresh concerns.[214] The application was rejected on 14 June,[215] effectively exhausting his legal options in the United Kingdom.[216][217] The court ruled that the required ten-day "countdown to the final extradition date" should begin after fourteen days.[218] This gave Assange's lawyers until 28 June to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg.[218][219]

Retired Swedish prosecutor Rolf Hillegren told Radio Sweden in January 2014 that he believed the case was impossible to move forward, that it had damaged the international reputation of the Swedish legal system, that Assange should have been interviewed by the prosecutor in the Ecuador consulate, and that not to have done so was illegal, indecent and disproportionate.[220]

In February 2014, Anne Ramberg, General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association, concurred. She described the case as a "circus".[221] Ramberg had received official complaints from Swedish and international members of the public regarding the prosecution lawyer Ms. Elisabeth Massi Fritz's repeated interactions with the press some months prior.[222]

On the 24th of June 2014, The Guardian reported[221] that Assange's lawyers filed a request to Stockholm District Court to dismiss his detention,[223] based on an update to Sweden's code of judicial procedure (1 June 2014) to conform with EU law including a new provision that those arrested or detained have the right to be made aware of "facts forming the basis for the decision to arrest". The action will apparently lead to the first custody hearing since his arrest.

Swedish legal opinion at a senior level has swung against the prosecutor's decision not to travel to London to interview Assange, with Anne Ramberg, head of the Bar Association, calling the current impasse a "circus".

—David Crouch for The Guardian[221]

On the 1st of July 2014, the prosecutor Marianne Ny released a statement in Swedish in which she addressed the question of whether it is still necessary to put Assange in pre-trial custody in Sweden (known as häkte.) She said that there are still grounds for wanting to put Assange in häkte, as, according to her, there is sufficient cause to believe that he may have been responsible for the crimes that he is alleged to have committed. Additionally, he is viewed as a flight risk. She also reiterated her reasons for not wanting to interview Assange in London, which she had expressed in an earlier statement.[224] According to her, it is vital that Assange be available in Sweden in case the police investigation results in a trial, and in case he is found to be guilty and receives a sentence. Also, Assange's unwillingness to allow himself to be extradited cannot be viewed as a reason for the prosecutor to change her mind about putting him in häkte, she explained. She addressed the question of whether Assange has been deprived of his freedom for a disproportionate length of time. According to the prosecutor, it was his own decision to question the validity of the European arrest warrant that caused delays. Extradition would happened quickly if it had not been contested. It is her view that Assange cannot be regarded as being currently deprived of his freedom as he is out of the reach of the British police and is in the Ecuadorean Embassy of his own free will. He cannot also be viewed as being deprived of his freedom when he was out on bail to the extent that it could be seen as disproportionate or the equivalent of being in häkte. The only period during which Assange has been deprived of his freedom to this extent, according to Marianne Ny, is the period of the 7–16 December 2010.[225][226][227]

On the 7th of July 2014, Assange was interviewed by Democracy Now! with regard to the upcoming hearing and made the following comments.[228]

It will be the first date in nearly four—in four years that the matter has been heard about in Sweden. And my lawyers are confident that either in the lower court, and more likely the appeal court, we will be able to dismiss the case, because the law is reasonably clear. You’re meant to proceed with—the Swedish government has an obligation under its own law to proceed with maximum speed, with minimum cost, and also with bringing the minimum suspicion on the person who’s being investigated. And it is in clear violation of all those points of law. Because of the abuses in this case and some other cases, new European law was introduced and pulled in—and enacted in Sweden. And it was meant to be enacted by June the 1st this year; it wasn’t. But by July the 1st it should have come on board, so just recently. So that new legislation permits people who are suspects, who had their liberty deprived in some way, to be able to access evidence that shows that they’re innocent. And so, we understand that there’s significant evidence that was collected by the police that show that I am innocent, and they have thus far refused to hand it over. But this new European law means that they have to hand it over. [...] The options for them, they can simply—they can dismiss it; they can say that the law is unclear and ask maybe European Court of Justice to give clarity on this new European law and how it is to be implemented.

—Julian Assange, interview with Democracy Now!, 7th of July 2014

On the 12th of July 2014, Assange's Swedish lawyers Thomas Olsson and Per E Samuelson authored an op-ed in Svenska Dagbladet. Titled roughly "The deadlock is disgraceful: Sweden and the rule of law" (Dödläget är ovärdigt: Sverige som rättsstat), it explained the background to the case, cited the prosecution lawyer Ms. Elisabeth Massi Fritz's media behavior as "catchphrase justice of the lowest level" (slagordsjuridik på lägsta debattnivå), and re-iterated the reasons why they have requested revocation.[229]

The detention order (häktning) was retried on the 16th of July 2014 at a public hearing, and Assange's presence was requested.[227] During the course of the proceedings, Assange's defence lawyers said that the prosecutors have a "duty" to advance the case, and that they had shown "passivity" in refusing to go to London to interview Assange.[230] The court ruled to uphold the arrest warrant after about an hour of deliberation.[231][232] In response, Assange's Swedish legal team stated to Radio Sweden: "We still think we have very good legal arguments to get this decision overruled, so we are confident in the result of the appeal. We think the court of appeal can make another decision on the same arguments as the district court."[233] Ecuador immediately issued a statement "The Ecuadorian Government reaffirms its offer of judicial cooperation to the Kingdom of Sweden, to reach a prompt solution to the case. In this sense Ecuador keeps its invitation to judicial officers visit the London Embassy so that Julian Assange can be interviewed or via videoconference. Both possibilities are explicitly referred in the current procedural legislation in Sweden and the European Union."[234] Wikileaks' lawyer Michael Ratner also published a statement[235] via the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights summarising the current situation:

The UK Parliament changed the law that ordered Assange to Sweden, so that only a decision to charge him, not allegations, can prompt extradition. Lawyers in Sweden filed suit to set aside the warrant for Assange’s arrest, arguing that the Swedish government has violated his rights by continuing their investigation without actually questioning him, while 59 legal and non-governmental organizations have filed a complaint with United Nations stating that the almost unlimited power of prosecutors in Sweden does not comply with various international human rights treaties. Fifty-one organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have asked the US Department of Justice to end the criminal investigation of Julian Assange.

Michael Ratner, Wikileaks Lawyer

The statute of limitations in Sweden is five years for unlawful coercion and 10 years for rape, which means that it will no longer be possible to charge Assange based on these allegations after 2020.[236][221]

Political asylum in Ecuador

Julian Assange on a balcony in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

On 19 June 2012, Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Integration Ricardo Patiño announced that Assange had applied for political asylum, that his government was considering the request, and that Assange was at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.[237][238][239][240][241][242] Patiño's deputy, Kintto Lucas, had canvassed the possibility of Assange taking up residence in Ecuador when he first faced arrest in November 2010,[243][244] but Lucas's views were not endorsed by Patiño[245] or by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa[246][247] at that time.

Assange said he would go to Sweden if provided with a diplomatic guarantee that he would not be turned over to the U.S.[248] [249] Lawyer David Allen Green responded that while Assange was less likely to be extradited from Sweden than from the United Kingdom, Sweden could not provide such a guarantee under its own or international law: "Assange is asking the impossible, as he probably knows."[201][250] Ecuadorian officials also suggested that Swedish authorities could question Assange at the embassy.[251][252] The prosecutor explained that Assange was not wanted "merely to assist with our enquiries," but for "the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings"—that is, to be arrested, charged, and tried.[253][254]

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy on 16 June 2013.

On 16 August 2012, Foreign Minister Patiño announced that Ecuador was granting Assange political asylum.[255][256][257][258] Swedish lawyer Claes Borgström called Ecuador's decision "completely absurd" and "an abuse of the asylum instrument,"[259] a view echoed by others.[161][260][261] Latin American states expressed support for Ecuador.[262][263][264][265] President Correa confirmed on 18 August that Assange could stay at the embassy indefinitely,[266][267][268] and the following day Assange gave the first of his addresses from the balcony.[269][270][271][272]

His home since then has been an office converted into a studio apartment, equipped with a bed, telephone, sun lamp, computer, shower, treadmill, and kitchenette.[273][274][275][276][277] There was concern that British authorities would try to extricate Assange from the embassy by force, but this did not occur.[278][279][280][281][282][283] Officers of the Metropolitan Police Service remain stationed outside the building to arrest him should he try to leave. The cost of the policing operation for the first two years of Assange's stay was £6.5 million.[284]

The individuals who stood bail for Assange, including Ken Loach, Jemima Khan, Michael Moore, John Pilger, and those others who had provided a cash deposit of £200,000, forfeited everything in July 2012,[116][285][286][287][288] and in October, a separate group of nine supporters who had pledged sureties totalling £140,000 were ordered to pay £93,500 after the judge made various reductions on compassionate grounds.[286][289][290][291][292]

In an interview with Democracy Now! on July 7, 2014, Assange partly explained the impact of his case in the UK.[228]

As a result of the abuses in my case, which were seen by the Supreme Court—there was a split in the Supreme Court. Here in Britain. And subsequently, the Cambridge Journal of Comparative Law wrote two papers about what had happened. And there’s a lot of concern about this idea that you could extradite someone without even charging them. So, political pressure—there was a backbench revolt in the British Parliament, principally amongst the conservative backbench, that this was—you know, that any police officer in Europe could just ask for someone in the U.K. to be extradited without it going before a court and without them being charged. And so new legislation was introduced to prevent that happening. So, no more extradition without charge from the U.K. But there was then debate that, "Well, will this in fact protect Assange?" And so, a specific clause was entered into it that it will not be retrospective for those people where the court has decided that they will be extradited, but they haven’t been extradited yet—which just applies to me.

—Julian Assange, interview with Democracy Now!, 7th of July 2014

Work under political asylum

Assange announced that he would run for the Australian Senate in March 2012 under the newly created WikiLeaks Party,[293][294] had his own talk show on Russia Today in April–July, made a guest star appearance on The Simpsons in February,[295][296] was visited by Lady Gaga in October,[297] and Cypherpunks[60] was published in November.

Several films appeared about Assange between 2012 and 2014. The telemovie Underground: The Julian Assange Story (2012) won its timeslot when it premiered on Australian free-to-air.[298] The documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) attracted favourable reviews, but was denounced by Assange as "an unethical and biased title in the context of pending criminal trials. It is the prosecution’s claim and it is false.", leading the executive producer Jemima Khan to feel "alienated";[114] the film had modest audiences.[299] The thriller The Fifth Estate (2013) inspired neither critics nor moviegoers, ranking as the year's "top turkey";[300][301] Assange opposed The Fifth Estate and welcomed its failure.[302][303]

During the year of 2012, Assange worked on analyzing and assessing the historic records, a vast amount of data held at the U.S. National Archives and releasing it in a searchable form.[304][305] Assange held two interviews[306][307] at the end 2010 in which he complained about Swedish police report being leaked, and that the Guardian was "selectively publishing" parts of it, a single day before his bail hearing,[308][309][310][311][312] while others noted the irony of the leak.[313][314]

Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley said Assange had "painted himself into a corner and he's going to stay there for some time,".[175] When Edward Snowden leaked the Global surveillance disclosures in June 2013, Snowden displaced Assange in media coverage, according to a study of Google Trends search results published 31 December 2013,[315] despite his role in getting Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow.[316] The book The Unauthorised Autobiography, 2011, by the ghostwriter Andrew O'Hagan in March 2014[19] prompted Sarah Sands to dismiss him as a "fading star of cyberspace".[317] Colin Robinson of the Guardian countered that its "shallow presumptions about the character of someone never met and the guilt of someone never tried", and "that it is especially dangerous to pass casual judgment on the character of people who confront the powerful" when "Greenwald report reveals that Assange and WikiLeaks have been the specific target of operatives in GCHQ and the NSA.".[318]

Writings

Assange's political ideas include information transparency, and "market libertarianism."[319] He has written a few short pieces, including "State and terrorist conspiracies" (2006),[320] "Conspiracy as governance" (2006),[321] "The hidden curse of Thomas Paine" (2008),[322] "What’s new about WikiLeaks?" (2011),[323] and the foreword to Cypherpunks (2012).[60] He also contributed research to Suelette Dreyfus's Underground (1997),[31] and received a co-writer credit for the Calle 13 song "Multi_Viral" (2013).

His Unauthorised Autobiography (2011) was published against his wishes, and appears to be entirely the work of Andrew O'Hagan, based on interviews with Assange.[19] Cypherpunks is primarily a transcript of the The World Tomorrow episode 8 two-part interview between Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn, and Jérémie Zimmermann.

Personal life

While still in his teens, Assange married a woman known only as Teresa, and in 1989 they had a son, Daniel Assange, now a software designer.[9][30][324] The couple separated and fought over custody of the child until 1999.[10] Assange says he was Daniel's primary caregiver for much of his childhood.[325] For a time he was the partner of WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison.[19][326]

Legacy

Books about Julian Assange

Films about Julian Assange

TV programs about Julian Assange

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Further reading

  • Julian Assange and Andrew O'Hagan, Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography (London: Canongate, 2011).
  • Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn, and Jérémie Zimmermann, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet (New York and London: OR Books, 2012).
  • Heather Brooke, The Revolution Will Be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War (London: William Heinemann, 2011).
  • Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Tina Klopp, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, translated by Jefferson Chase (London: Jonathon Cape, 2011). First published as Inside WikiLeaks: Meine Zeit bei der gefährlichsten Website der Welt (Berlin: Econ Verlag / Ullstein Buchverlage, 2011).
  • Suelette Dreyfus, Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, with research by Julian Assange (Sydney: Random House, 1997).
  • Andrew Fowler, The Most Dangerous Man in the World: The Explosive True Story of Julian Assange and the Lies, Cover-ups and Conspiracies He Exposed (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2011).
  • David Leigh and Luke Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (London: Guardian Books, 2011; rev. edn. 2013).
  • Raffi Khatchadourian, "No secrets: Julian Assange's mission for total transparency," The New Yorker, 7 June 2010.
  • Robert Manne, "The cypherpunk revolutionary: Julian Assange," The Monthly, March 2011. Reprinted in Robert Manne, Making Trouble: Essays Against the New Australian Complacency (Melbourne: Black Inc. Publishing, 2011).
  • Andrew O'Hagan, "Ghosting: Julian Assange," London Review of Books, vol. 36, no. 5 (6 March 2014).