Julian Assange

Julian Assange

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Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 06:01AM EST by Y F.

Added Jun 20, 2013 at 08:20PM EDT by Brad.

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Julian Assange is an Australian journalist and political activist best known as the founder and editor-in-chief of the international whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks. Since November 2010, Assange has been wanted by the British government for extradition to Sweden under an European Arrest Warrant relating to a sexual assault investigation and currently resides inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as a political refugee.

Online History


in December 2006, WikiLeaks was launched as a non-profit organization under the directorship of Julian Assange. Within the first year of launch, the site claimed that its database consists of more than 1.2 million documents. Assange also serves as member on the Board of Directors for the website's parent company The Sunshine Press.

Collateral Murder

Julian Assange first rose to international prominence in April 2010 with the WikiLeaks release of Collateral Murder, a 39-minute video footage depicting the U.S. military air strikes against Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists in the district of New Baghdad in Iraq. The footage instantly sparked outrage online, followed by a national debate in the U.S. news media about the conducts of U.S. troops overseas and the role of whistleblowing and investigative journalism during wartime.

U.S. Diplomatic Cable Leaks

2010 United States Diplomatic Cables Leak refers to a series of events that took place after WikiLeaks publicly disclosed over 200,000 classified diplomatic cables originally issued by the U.S. State Department's 300 missions overseas. The leak promptly drew harsh criticisms from the U.S. government and they pressing on the affiliates of WikiLeaks to halt their financial transactions with WikiLeaks. As a result, WikiLeaks’ server host Amazon dropped their service, while Mastercard and PayPal ceased all transactions of funds donated by the supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Operation Avenge Assange

In retaliation against the U.S.-led sanctions of WikiLeak and its editor-in-chief, an Anonymous contingent associated with Operation Payback launched several waves of DDoS attacks against various companies whom they perceived as enemies of Julian Assange that became known as Operation Avenge Assange.

online poster for the Anonymous run operation Avenge Assange

The Fifth Estate

In March 2011, The Guardian and other news sources reported that DreamWorks Studio will produce a Hollywood adaptation of Wikileaks and Julian Assange based on WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by former Wikileaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding. Titled The Fifth Estate and envisioned as a political investigative thriller, the film will chronicle the history of the organization through the eyes of Domscheit-Berg, from its early days to the eventual fallout between Assange and Domscheit-Berg following their rise to fame.

actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl as Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg in the movie The Fifth Estate

During the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, more details about the film and the cast were revealed through a press release, along with the first official photograph of the lead actors (shown above). Set for theatrical release on November 15th, 2013, the film is directed by Bill Condon and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) as Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and German actor Daniel Brühl as the former spokesperson of the website Daniel Domscheit-Berg. On January 28th, Assange revealed that he has obtained a leaked copy of the film script and critiqued it as a “mass propaganda attack” during a speech at the Oxford Union (shown below).

Internet Access Block

On October 17th, 2016, the @Wikileaks[7] Twitter account tweeted that Assange's "internet link" had been "intentionally severed by a state party" at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England (shown below, left). That afternoon, the account posted a follow-up message claiming that Ecuador shut down Assange's internet access after Wikileaks released transcripts of speeches delivered by Hillary Clinton to the multinational finance company Goldman Sachs (shown below, right).[8]

WikiLeaks @wikileaks Following Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans. RETWEETS LIKES 41,675 44,892 OG 1:33 AM-17 Oct 2016 t7-42K 45K II WikiLeaks& Following @wikileaks We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs. RETWEETS LIKES 11:0 1 41,578 25,289 3:27 PM - 17 Oct 2016 2.42K 25K

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden retweeted @Wikileaks, stating that "censorship is never the answer" (shown below).

Edward Snowden @Snowden Following No matter your opinion of @Wikileaks or Assange, censorship is never the answer. WikiLeaks @wikileaks We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs. RETWEETS LIKES 8,761 11,285 4:08 PM-17 Oct 2016 E ,囿恿오 £78.8K 11K

The following day, Ecuadorean Embassy released a statement affirming their commitment to granting Assange asylum, but did not comment on whether they had disabled his internet access.[9]

"In view of recent speculations, the government of Ecuador reaffirms the validity of the asylum granted four years ago to Julian Assange. We also ratify that the protection given by the Ecuadorean state will continue while the circumstances that led to the granting of asylum remain."

Also on October 18th, @Wikileaks tweeted that Democrat Party politician John Kerry had urged the Ecuadorian government to prevent Assange from releasing Clinton documents (shown below). That day, the U.S. State Department released a statement to the press denying the claims.[10]

WikiLeaks @wikileaks Following BREAKING: Multiple US sources tell us John Kerry asked Ecuador to stop ASsange from publishing Clinton docs during FARC peace negotiations. RETWEETS LIKES 21,726 19,834 9:23 AM- 18 Oct 2016 22K 20K

Second Block

On March 28th, 2018, the Ecuadorian government cut off access to Julian Assange's internet access for a second time.[26] The government believes that his actions on social media "put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations."[29]

The decision was met by outrage by several prominent public people. That day, Megaupload creator Kim Dotcom tweeted,[27] "🚨 URGENT ASSANGE ALERT 🚨 Julian Assange has had his Internet disconnected and is not allowed any visitors If you’re in LONDON please gather immediately outside the Ecuadorian Embassy Demand “Reconnect Julian” Until Julian is back online Thank you 🚨 URGENT ASSANGE ALERT 🚨" The post (shown below, left) received more than 11,000 retweets and 15,000 likes in 24 hours.

Later that day, Dotcom posted an image of protestors in front of Assange's location at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He tweeted,[30] "The first protesters are arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to demand that Julian Assange will be reconnected to the Internet. #ReconnectJulian." The post (shown below, center) received more than 2,400 retweets and 4,000 likes in 24 hours.

Additionally, film director Oliver Stone tweeted,[27] "Urgent: Free Assange! Restore his internet connection! #ReconnectJulian." The post (shown below, right) received more than 3,500 retweets and 4,100 likes in 24 hours. In the coming days, others began tweeting the support of assange with the similar hashtag "#ReconnectAssange."[31][32]

Kim Dotcom @KimDotcom URGENT ASSANGE ALERT Julian Assange has had his Internet disconnected and is not allowed any visitors If you're in LONDON please gather immediately outside the Ecuadorian Embassy Demand "Reconnect Julian" Until Julian is back online Thank you URGENT ASSANGE ALERT E tweet by Kim Dotcom with picture of pro Assange protesters outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Oliver Stone @TheOliverStone Urgent: Free Assange! Restore his internet connection! #ReconnectJulian BREAKING NEWS Assange internet connection cut off in embassy - Kim DotCom - RT World N... Kim DotCom is alleging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has had his internet connection within the Ecuadorian embassy in London cut off. He has called on A... rt.com


Since Assange's internet access ban, he has not been seen or heard from as of November 16th, 2016. This caused his supporters to wonder about his whereabouts using the hashtag "#WhereIsAssange." The subreddit /r/WhereIsAssange[11] is devoted to the same purpose, and has over 3,600 readers. On November 15th, HauntedCemetery[12] asked a question about why people are suspicious of Assange's disappearance on /r/OutOfTheLoop in a post that gained 221 points. A response from AurelianoTampa explained:

To try and stop one of the less scrupulous from whisking [Wikileaks] away never to be seen again, they have a history of releasing "insurance files"; a huge amount of encrypted files that, in the event that the site or its members disappear, can be unlocked with the release of digital key. These insurance files also have a checksum feature so that if the files are ever released, people can verify that the information inside them has not been altered or changed from the original upload… A new insurance file was recently uploaded, but the checksum string had been changed.[13] This probably means one of two things:
A) Either someone at Wikileaks made a mistake and accidentally made a modification to the insurance files.
B) Someone is changing files and uploading them while pretending to be Wikileaks.

This event and the disappearance of Assange has led some to theorize that Wikileaks has been compromised.

United States Extradition

On January 12th, 2017, the @Wikileaks[14] Twitter feed announced that Assange would agree to U.S. extradition if Barack Obama granted "clemency" to Chelsea Manning (shown below). Within six days, the tweet received upwards of 6,800 retweets and 5,800 likes.

WikiLeaks @wikileaks Following If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case WikiLeaks @wikileaks WikiLeaks lawyers to Loretta Lynch: 'Clinton precedent requires closing DoJ case against WikiLeaks docdroid.net'1CJRtog/201608. RETWEETS LIKES 6,833 5,813 IIN THE HAKA 2:40 PM- 12 Jan 2017 1.3K 6.8K 5.8K

On January 17th, 2017, Obama commuted Manning’s jail term with an expected release from the United States Disciplinary Barracks, a military correctional facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17th, 2017. That day, the @Wikileaks Twitter feed announced that Assange's lawyer stated "Everything that he said he's standing by" and that "Assange is confident of winning any fair trial in the US" (shown below).[15][16]

WikiLeaks @wikileaks Follow Assange lawyer @themtchair on Assange-Manning extradition deal: "Everything that he has said he's standing by." 8:22 PM-17 Jan 2017 1,894 2,518 WikiLeaks Follow 炰. @wikileaks Assange is confident of winning any fair trial in the US. Obama's DoJ prevented public interest defense & fai jury. justice4assange.com 6:51 PM-17 Jan 2017 다 2,087 3,383

That evening, Twitter[17] created a Moments page titled "Will Julian Assange accept extradition after Manning clemency?", highlighting various tweets discussing the possible extradition.

picture of a monkey answering a phone representing Julian Assange pretending not to know who's calling when he's contacted about Chelsea Manning's trial being commuted

On January 18th, The Hill[18] published a statement by Assange's lawyer Barry Pollack, who announced that the commutation did not meet the conditions for Assange's extradition:

"Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning's sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought. Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately."

Swedish Rape Investigation Dropped

On May 19th, 2017, The New York Times[19] reported that a rape investigation into Assange had been dropped by Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny in Sweden. However, British authorities claimed they would arrest Assange if he attempted to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for failing to appear in court in 2012. That day, posts about the announcement reached the front page of the /r/worldnews,[21] /r/news,[22] /r/Wikileaks[23] and /r/The_Donald[24] subreddits. That day, Twitter published a Moments[24] page titled "Sweden drops rape investigation against Julian Assange." That day, Assange tweeted that he had been detained in the embassy for years while his "children grew up" and his "name was slandered," noting "I do not forgive or forget" (shown below). Within two hours, the tweet garnered upwards of 6,100 likes and 2,900 retweets.[25]

Julian Assange @JulianAssange Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.

United Kingdom Extradition

On July 20th, 2018, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno visited London to meet with British officials with the claimed purpose of discussing the 2018 Global Disability Summit. On July 20th, RT[33] published an article titled "Ecuador to hand over Assange to UK ‘in coming weeks or days,’ own sources tell RT's editor-in-chief." The following day, The Intercept[34] published an article confirming the claims, citing an anonymous source with connections to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry.

N 452 LENIN MORENO GARCÉS PRESIDENTE CONSTITUCIONAL DE LA REPUBLICA N 452 CONSIDERANDO: LENÍN MORENO GARCES En ejercicio de la facultad que le confiere el Articulo 147 número 5) de la Constitución de la República del Ecuador, y el Articulo 11 letra f) del Estatuto del Régimen Jurídico y Administrativo de la Función Ejecutiva PRESIDENTE CONSTITUCIONAL DE LA REPÚBLICA DECRETA: Articulo Primero.- Declarar en comisión de servicios a la comitiva oficial que se desplazará con el Primer Mandatario del Ecuador a Londres y Edimburgo (Reino Unido); y, Madrid (España), del 21 al 27 de julio del 2018, ciudades en las que cumplirá la siguiente agenda internacional, y que lo acompañarán: Articulo Segundo.- Las delegaciones y atribuciones de los señores Ministros, en su ausencia, se regirán a lo dispuesto en el Artículo 17 del Estatuto del Régimen Jurídico y Administrativo de la Función Ejecutiva. Londres, a la "Cumbre Global Sobre Discapacidades": y, Edimburgo-Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte, para cumplir actividades de carácter oficial Articulo Tercero.- Los viáticos y más gastos que demanden estos desplazamientos, se cubrirán con cargo a los presupuestos de las instituciones a las que pertenecen los integrantes de esta comitiva. Señora Rocío González de Moreno, Presidenta del Comité Interinstitucional del Plan "Toda Una Vida" Señor Carlos Pérez Garcia, Ministro de Hidrocarburos; 1. Articulo Cuarto.- Este Decreto entrará en vigencia a partir de la presente fecha, sin perjuicio de su publicación en el Registro Oficial. 2. 3. Señora Isabel Maldonado Vasco, Secretaria Técnica del Plan Toda una 4. Señor Juan Carranza Tenorio, Subsecretario de Información de la Secretaria 5. Señor León Avilés Salgado, Subsecretario de Asuntos Multilaterales, Vida Nacional de Comunicación; y Subrogante, del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana. Dado en el Palacio Nacional, en Quito, a 17 de julio del 2018. Madrid-Reino de España, (cumplir una agenda de carácter oficial): 1. Señora Rocio González de Moreno, Presidenta del Comité Interinstitucional del Plan "Toda Una Vida 2. Señor José Valencia Amores, Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad LENİN MORENO GARCÉS PRESIDENTE CONSTITUCIONAL DE LA REPUBLICA Humana; 3. Señor Mauro Toscanini Segale, Ministro del Interior 4. Señor Richard Martinez Alvarado, Ministro de Economía y Finanzas 5. Señor Andrés Michelena Ayala, Secretario Nacional de Comunicación; 6. Señor Juan Sebastián Roldán Proaño, Secretario Particular de la Presidencia de la República 7. Señora Isabel Maldonado Vasco, Secretaria Técnica del Plan "Toda una Vida": y Scñor Cristóbal Roldán Cobo, Embajador del Ecuador en España. 8.

Meanwhile, YouTuber Tim Pool uploaded a video discussing the news (shown below). In the video, Pool argues that the arrest of Assange "could be devastating for press freedoms" (shown below).

2018 Court Filing Error

On November 15th, 2018, The Washington Post reported that an unsealed indictment for an unrelated sex crime case involving Seitu Sulayman Kokayi unintentionally revealed that Assange had been charged by the United States attorney office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The following day, the article was submitted to /r/politics[35] by Redditor rollwave21, where it received upwards of 22,100 points (91% upvoted) and 2,700 comments.

2019 Arrest

On April 11th, 2019, Assange was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London by the Metropolitan Police for failure to surrender in court for his 2012 extradition to Sweden. That day, the international news agency Ruptly tweeted a video of the arrest (shown below).

Following the arrest, Ecuadorian president Lenin Morena announced that Assange's asylum had been withdrawn, citing Wikileaks leak of Vatican documents and "interfering in internal affairs of other states" as reasons for the decision. According to the BBC,[38] Morena also accused Assange of "blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and confronting guards." Meanwhile, Assange was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion by a grand jury for the Eastern District of Virginia.[40] That day, a Moments page was created on Twitter[39] highlighting various tweets about the arrest. Edward Snowden referred to the arrest as "a dark moment for press freedom" (shown below, left).[41] Meanwhile, Salon writer Amanda Marcotte tweeted that Assange "wouldn't be in this situation" if only "he hated women less" (shown below, right).

Edward Snowden @Snowden Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of--like it or not award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom. Ruptly@Rupty BREAKING: #Assange removed from embassy-video Show this thread 6:35 AM-11 Apr 2019 Amanda Marcotte @AmandaMarcotte If he hated women less, he wouldn't be in this situation. If he had simply faced the music for the rape charges, or not hurt those women to begin with, he'd likely be free by now. If his blinding hatred of Clinton hadn't led to him getting Trump elected, his life would be better.

In response to the arrest, actress Pamela Anderson posted several tweets condemning Ecuador, the United Kingdom and United States President Donald Trump. That day, Twitter published a Moments[36] page about Anderson's tweets. Meanwhile, NBC reporter Christina Ginn tweeted[37] a sketch of Assange in court (shown below).

courtroom sketch of Julian Assange's trial

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Julian Assange

[2] WikiLeaks – Main Page

[3] BBC – Profile: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

[4] Biography.com – Julian Assange

[5] The Guardian – Who is Julian Assange? By the people who know him best

[6] Huffington Post – Julian Assange Marks One Year Inside Ecuadorian Embassy In London

[7] Twitter – @wikileaks

[8] Twitter – @wikileaks

[9] Embajada – Ecuador ratifies the validity of the asylum granted to Julian Assange

[10] The Daily Dot – WikiLeaks publishes more Podesta emails after Ecuador cuts Assanges Internet

[11] Reddit – /r/WhereIsAssange

[12] /r/OutOfTheLoop – Why are people suspicious Julian Assange has disappeared?

[13] Reddit – Wikileaks latest insurance files don't match hashes

[14] Twitter – @wikileaks

[15] Twitter – @wikileaks

[16] Twitter – @wikileaks

[17] Twitter – Will Julian Assange accept extradition after Manning clemency?

[18] The Hill – Assange lawyer Manning commutation doesn't meet extradition offers conditions

[19] The New York Times – Julian Assange Rape Investigation Is Dropped in Sweden

[20] Reddit – Sweden drops Assange rape investigation

[21] Reddit – Sweden drops Assange rape investigation – BBC News

[22] Reddit – Sweden has dropped its case against Julian Assange

[23] Reddit – Sweden has dropped its case against Julian Assange

[24] Twitter – Sweden drops rape investigation against Julian Assange

[25] Twitter – @JulianAssange

[26] The New York Times – Ecuador Cuts Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access. Again.

[27] Twitter – @KimDotcom's Tweet

[28] Twitter – @TheOliverStone's Tweet

[29] The Guardian – Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange's internet access at London embassy

[30] Twitter – @KimDotcom's Tweet

[31] The Daily Dot – Celebrities academic, activists rally to #ReconnectAssange

[32] Twitter – #ReconnectAssange

[33] RT – Ecuador to hand over Assange to UK

[34] The Intercept – Ecuador Will Immintently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange

[35] Reddit – /r/politics

[36] Twitter Moments – Pamela Anderson reacts to Julian Assange's arrest

[37] Twitter – @NBChristinaGinn

[38] BBC – Julian Assange – Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London

[39] Twitter – Julian Assange found guilty of breaching bail

[40] Justice.gov – WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Computer Hacking Conspiracy

[41] Twitter – @Snowden

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