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Julian Paul Assange

English: Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 i...
English: Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Julian Paul Assange ([pron.: /əˈsɑːn/ə-sahnj;[2][3] born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor, activist, publisher and journalist.[4][5] He is best known as the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes submissions of secret information,[6] news leaks[7] and classified media from anonymous news sources[8] and whistleblowers.[9]
Assange was a hacker as a teenager, then a computer programmer before becoming internationally known for his work with WikiLeaks[10] and making public appearances around the world speaking about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.
WikiLeaks became internationally well known in 2010 when, with its partners in the news media, it began to publish U.S. military and diplomatic documents. Bradley Manning has since been arrested on suspicion of supplying the cables to WikiLeaks. U.S. Air Force documents reportedly state that military personnel who make contact with WikiLeaks or "WikiLeaks supporters" are at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy,"[11] and the United States Department of Justice reportedly has considered prosecuting Assange for several offenses.[12] During the trial of Manning prosecutors presented evidence that they claim reveals that Manning and Assange collaborated to steal and publish U.S. military and diplomatic documents.[13] Since November 2010, Assange has been subject to a European Arrest Warrant in response to a Swedish police request for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation. In June 2012, following final dismissal by the Supreme Court of the UK of his appeal against enforcement of the European Arrest Warrant, Assange has failed to surrender to his bail, and has been treated by the UK authorities as having absconded. Since 19 June 2012, he has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has since been granted diplomatic asylum.[14][15] The British government intends to extradite Assange to Sweden under that arrest warrant once he leaves the embassy, which Assange says he fears may result in his subsequent extradition to the United States to face charges over the diplomatic cables case.[14]
 Australia.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34] Assange has described an ancestor as a "Taiwanese pirate".."who settled on Thursday Island where he met and married a Thursday Islander woman."[30][32]According to former colleague, Daniel Domscheit-Berg: "There were stories of him having at least ten ancestors from various corners of the globe, from the South Sea pirates to Irishmen."[35] His mother, Christine Ann Assange (née Hawkins),[24] was born in Sydney. Her mother was a "specialist in medieval literature", and her father was a Sydney-born Australian World War II veteran, academic, and principal at Southern Cross University.[36][37][38][39][40][41]
In an interview with Robert Manne, Assange said that his "biological father" is named John Shipton, and that they did not meet "until he was 25". Manne writes: "strangely and perhaps revealingly, it (WikiLeaks) was registered under the names of two fathers, his biological one, John Shipton, and his cypherpunk political one, John Young, a New York architect who ran the intelligence leak website Cryptome, which could be seen as WikiLeaks' predecessor."[38][42][43][44] John Shipton is also referred to as an "architect" and an "Australian citizen living in Kenya", who resided in Nairobi, Kenya in 2008 at the same time as Assange.[45][46][47] He "met Assange's mother, Christine, then aged 17, at an antiques shop on his way to a Vietnam war demonstration ... little is known about the relationship, except that it had ended by the time of their son's first birthday – if not earlier"; Shipton "never took up residence or if he did only took up residence for a very short time" and "had no contact with [Assange]".[48]
His mother, Christine, married theatre director Richard Brett Assange when Julian was one year old.[49][50] As a single mother with infant Julian, Christine moved to a cottage in Picnic Bay,Magnetic Island, Queensland. In 1976, they returned to live on Magnetic Island, where they lived in Horseshoe Bay in an old, abandoned pineapple farm.[51][52]

Youth

During Assange's upbringing Brett and Christine Assange ran a touring theatre company. In the mid-1970s, Assange and his parents moved to North Lismore, New South Wales, and Assange attended Goolmangar Primary School in the nearby town of Goolmangar from 1979 to 1983.[53]
In 1979, his mother remarried "Leif Meynall – or Leif Hamilton";[54] her new husband was a musician whom Assange believed belonged to a New Age group called The Family, led by Yoga teacherAnne Hamilton-Byrne. The couple had a son, but broke up in 1982 and engaged in a custody struggle for Assange's half-brother. His divorced mother fled her boyfriend and travelled across Australia, taking both children into hiding for the next five years. Assange moved thirty times before he turned 14, attending many schools, including Goolmangar Primary School and Townsville State High School, sometimes being home-schooled.[49][52][55][56][57] In an interview conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Assange stated that he had lived in 50 different towns and attended 37 different schools.[58] When questioned by Robert Manne, he clarified that the 37 schools he has attended include those he attended for only a single day. Manne reported a statement that Assange had been officially enrolled in 12 of those schools. He and his mother "by the time he was 16 or 17" lived in "a tiny cement bungalow in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne, (Victoria, Australia)", first in the town of "Emerald and then Tecoma", now in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.[59][60]

"Mendax" and the Nortel case

In 1987, after turning 16, Assange began hacking under the name "Mendax" (derived from a phrase of Horace: "splendide mendax", or "nobly untruthful").[49] He and two other hackers joined to form a group they named the International Subversives. Assange wrote down the early rules of the subculture: "Don't damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don't change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information."[49] The Personal Democracy Forum said he was "Australia's most famous ethical computer hacker".[61]
The Australian Federal Police became aware of this group and set up "Operation Weather" to investigate their hacking. In September 1991, Mendax was discovered in the act of hacking into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel, the Canadian telecommunications company.[49] In response the Australian Federal Police tapped Assange's phone line and subsequently raided his Melbourne home in 1991.[62] He was also reported to have accessed computers belonging to an Australian university,[49] the USAF 7th Command Group in the Pentagon[63] and other organisations, via a modem.[64] It took three years to bring the case to court, where he was charged with 31 counts of hacking and related crimes. Nortel said that his incursions cost it more than $100,000. Assange's lawyers represented his hacking as a victimless crime. In May 1995, he pleaded guilty to 25 charges of hacking, after six charges were dropped, and was released on bond for good conduct with a fine of A$2,100.[49][65][66] The judge said "there is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to — what's the expression — surf through these various computers"[49] and stated that Assange would have gone to jail for up to 10 years if he had not had such a disrupted childhood.[63]
In 2011, court records revealed that, in 1993, Assange helped the Victoria Police Child Exploitation Unit by providing technical advice and assisted in prosecuting persons.[67]

Marriage and child custody issues

In 1988–1989, Assange married, then left the home he shared with his mother and started living with his wife after they had a son, Daniel Assange.[38][68] They split up before the period of Assange's arrest and conviction. They subsequently engaged in a lengthy custody struggle and did not agree on a custody arrangement until 1999.[49][69] He claims that he raised his eldest son as a single father for more than 14 years.[70]
The entire process prompted Assange and his mother to form Parent Inquiry Into Child Protection, an activist group centred on creating a "central databank" for otherwise inaccessible legal records related to child custody issues in Australia.[69] In an interview with ABC Radio, his mother explained their "most important" issue was demanding "that there be direct access to the children's court by any member of the public for an application for protection for any child that they believe is at serious risk from abuse, where the child protection agency has rejected that notification."[71]
Assange also has a younger daughter.[72][73][74]

Computer programming and other employment

In 1993, Assange was involved in starting one of the first public internet service providers in Australia, Suburbia Public Access Network.[75][76] Starting in 1994, he lived in Melbourne, where he worked on developing free software and programming.[65] In 1995, he wrote Strobe, a freeware port scanner.[77][78] He contributed several patches to the PostgreSQL project in 1996.[79][80] He helped to write the book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier (1997), which credits him as a researcher and reports his history with International Subversives.[81][82] Starting around 1997, he co-invented the Rubberhose deniable encryption system, a cryptographic concept made into a software package for the Linux operating system designed to provide plausible deniability against rubber-hose cryptanalysis;[83] he originally intended the system to be used "as a tool for human rights workers who needed to protect sensitive data in the field."[84] Other free-software that he has authored or co-authored includes the Usenet caching software NNTPCache[85] and Surfraw, a command-line interface for web-based search engines. In 1998, "Assange co-founded his first and only Australian company, Earthmen Technology".[51] Assange was characterised as a "cryptographer" in a Suelette Dreyfus article published in The Independent, 15 November 1999 – "This is just between us (and the spies)", and was said to have been the moderator of "the online Australian discussion forum AUCRYPTO", and during this time Assange claimed to have found a new patent relating to the US National Security Agency's technology for monitoring calls, "while investigating NSA capabilities". Assange said that "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".[86] In 1999, he registered the domain leaks.org, but he says he "didn't do anything with it."[87]

University studies

From 2002 to 2005, Assange attended the University of Melbourne and the University of Canberra as an undergraduate student. He started a 'Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree, studying physics, pure mathematics and, briefly, philosophy and neuroscience, but he did not graduate.[55][61][88][89] There are four passing grades in the Australian university system -- "pass", "credit" or "merit", "distinction" and "high distinction"; in most of his maths courses, he received "pass" (50-65%).[90] The fact that his fellow students were doing research for the Pentagon's DARPA was reportedly a factor in motivating him to drop out and start WikiLeaks.[49][55][89]

Public appearances and residency

Assange has not lived in Australia since he left after starting to work on WikiLeaks. He has been in Europe since his work with Wikileaks gained notoriety.[108] In 2007 Assange moved to Nairobi, Kenya, he then also spent time in Tanzania, stayed in Cairo, Egypt for a week,[109] Paris, France and Wiesbaden, Germany for two months at the end of 2008,[110] He appeared at a hacker conference, the 25th and 26th Chaos Communication Congress in Germany[111] He was in Linz, Austria for the Ars Electronica in September 2009[112] and Barcelona, Spain for the Personal Democracy Forum in November 2009.[113][114][115][116] and at a media conference, New Media Days '09, in Copenhagen, Denmark.[117] He began renting a house in Iceland on 30 March 2010, from which he and other activists, including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, worked on the Collateral Murder video.[49] He was in San Francisco, California, United States, for the Logan Symposium in Investigative Reporting at the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism in April 2010, then in Oslo, Norway for the Oslo Freedom Forum from 26 to 29 April, before he returned to Australia in June 2010.[118][119][120][121] On 21 June 2010, he took part in a hearing in Brussels, Belgium, appearing in public for the first time in nearly a month.[122] He was a member on a panel that discussed Internet censorship and expressed his worries over the recent filtering in countries such as Australia. He also talked about secret gag orders preventing newspapers from publishing information about specific subjects and even divulging the fact that they are being gagged. Using an example involving The Guardian, he also explained how newspapers are sometimes altering their online archives by removing entire articles.[105][123] He told The Guardian that he does not fear for his safety but is on permanent alert and will avoid travel to America, saying "[US] public statements have all been reasonable. But some statements made in private are a bit more questionable." He said "politically it would be a great error for them to act. I feel perfectly safe but I have been advised by my lawyers not to travel to the US during this period."[122]
On 17 July 2010, Jacob Appelbaum spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York City, replacing Assange due to the presence of federal agents at the conference.[124][125] He announced that the WikiLeaks submission system was again up and running, after it had been temporarily suspended.[124][126] Assange was a surprise speaker at a TED conference on 19 July 2010 in Oxford, England and confirmed that WikiLeaks was now accepting submissions again.[127][128][129] On 26 July, after the release of the Afghan War Diary, he appeared at the Frontline Club for a press conference.[130] Later in July 2010 he was in London, United Kingdom, then in August in Stockholm, Sweden, before returning to London, where he was imprisoned.[131]
In the first half of 2010, he appeared on Al Jazeera EnglishMSNBCDemocracy Now!RT and The Colbert Report to discuss the release of the Baghdad airstrike video by WikiLeaks. On 3 June he appeared via videoconferencing at the Personal Democracy Forum conference with Daniel Ellsberg.[132][133] Ellsberg told MSNBC "the explanation he (Assange) used" for not appearing in person in the US was that "it was not safe for him to come to this country."[134] On 11 June he was to appear on a showcase panel at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas,[135] but there are reports that he cancelled several days prior.[136]
On 10 June 2010, it was reported that Pentagon officials were trying to determine Assange's whereabouts.[137][138] Based on this, there were reports that US officials wanted to apprehend him.[139] In The AtlanticMarc Ambinder called Ellsberg's concerns "ridiculous" and said that "Assange's tendency to believe that he is one step away from being thrown into a black hole hinders, and to some extent discredits, his work."[140] On Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald questioned "screeching media reports" that there was a "manhunt" on Assange underway, arguing that they were only based on comments by "anonymous government officials" and might even serve a campaign by the US government, by intimidating possible whistleblowers.[citation needed]
In October 2010, his application for a residency permit was denied in Sweden.[141]
On 4 November 2010, Assange told Swiss public television TSR that he was seriously considering seeking political asylum in neutral Switzerland and moving the operation of the WikiLeaks foundation there.[142]
In late November 2010, Kintto Lucas, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ecuador, spoke about giving Assange residency with "no conditions... so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the Internet but in a variety of public forums".[143] Lucas believed that Ecuador may benefit from initiating a dialogue with Assange.[144] Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño stated on 30 November that the residency application would "have to be studied from the legal and diplomatic perspective".[145] A few hours later, President Rafael Correa stated that WikiLeaks "committed an error by breaking the laws of the United States and leaking this type of information... no official offer was [ever] made."[146][147] Correa noted that Lucas was speaking "on his own behalf"; additionally, he will launch an investigation into possible ramifications Ecuador would suffer from the release of the cables.[147]
In December 2010, it was reported that the US Ambassador to Switzerland, Donald S. Beyer, had warned the Swiss government against offering asylum to Assange, citing the arrest warrant issued by Interpol.[148]
In a hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 7 December 2010, Assange identified a post-office box as his address. When told by the judge that this information was not acceptable, he submitted "Parkville, Victoria, Australia" on a sheet of paper. His lack of permanent address and nomadic lifestyle were cited by the judge as factors in denying bail.[149] He was ultimately released, in part because journalist Vaughan Smith offered to provide Assange with an address for bail during the extradition proceedings, Smith's Norfolk mansion, Ellingham Hall.[150]He lived there for a year, then moved out in December 2011 to a "3,000-acre estate in East Sussex" – "a lodge on Lord Abergavenny's Eridge Park estate, near Tunbridge Wells".[151][152]
On 14 February 2011, Assange filed for the trademark "Julian Assange" in Europe. The trademark is to be used for "public speaking services; news reporter services; journalism; publication of texts other than publicity texts; education services; entertainment services".[153]
On 19 February 2012 the 500th episode of The Simpsons, "At Long Last Leave", was aired, which features Assange guest-starring as himself in a scene written by Australian author Kathy Lette, the wife of Assange's adviser Geoffrey Robertson QC.[154][155]

Financial developments

On 6 December 2010, the Swiss bank PostFinance announced that it had frozen assets of Assange's totalling 31,000 euros, because he had "provided false information regarding his place of residence" when opening the account.[164] MasterCard,[165] Visa Inc.,[166] and Bank of America[167] also halted dealings with WikiLeaks. Assange described these actions as "business McCarthyism".[168] The English-language Swedish newspaper website The Local quoted Assange on 27 December 2010 as saying that legal costs for the whistleblowing website and his own defence had reached £500,000. Assange said WikiLeaks had been receiving as much as £85,000 a day at its peak, before the financial blockade.[169]

Autobiography

In December 2010, Assange sold the publishing rights[170] to his proposed autobiography for over £1 million. He told The Sunday Times that he was forced to enter the deal for an autobiography because of the financial difficulties he and the site encountered, stating "I don't want to write this book, but I have to. I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat."[171]
A draft of this work was published, without Assange's consent, in September 2011. The book was ghostwritten by Andrew O'Hagan and was given the title Julian Assange – The Unauthorised Autobiography (2011). Assange and the publisher, Canongate, gave differing accounts of the circumstances surrounding the publication.[172][173]

Allegations of possible extradition to the United States

Emails leaked by WikiLeaks from Stratfor, a private intelligence firm, have discussions surrounding a secret grand jury[174] with a secret indictment.[175] Later, a media organisation[who?] received declassified diplomatic cables that confirm a secret indictment exists.[citation needed] The documents go on to state that Australia has no objection to a potential extradition to the United States. The Australian government confirmed the possibility of extradition but stated that it wasn't unusual as there was an ongoing investigation about WikiLeaks. They point out that the United States may not be intent on extraditing Assange.[176]

Support and criticism around the world

Comments by the Australian government

The publication of Australian government briefings after a Senate request showed the government had privately discussed charging Assange with treason, which they never mentioned publicly.[177]Julia Gillard claimed that Assange's actions were illegal, which was later retracted when an Australian Federal Police commission determined he had not broken any Australian laws.[citation needed] They also found no grounds to withdraw his Australian passport after an investigation by the Australian Federal Police.
Since then, government representatives and the major opposition, including Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Minister for Trade Craig Emerson and former Minister for Communications Helen Coonan have made statements supportive of WikiLeaks and deprecated some threats. Emerson stated on ABC's 'Q&A' program: "We condemn absolutely the threats that have been made by some people in the United States against Julian Assange and he deserves all of the rights of being an Australian citizen".[178]
Senator Ludlam's WikiLeaks support website[179] leads with: "[We] are demanding the Australian Government take action to ensure WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange's legal and consular rights are upheld. We are concerned that our government has done nothing to investigate the secret US Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks, which could lead to Assange's extradition to the US."
These supportive statements by the Australian government have complicated Assange's attempts to seek political asylum. Under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, refugees must have a "well-founded fear of being persecuted" in their home country.[180]
On 18 August, a Freedom of Information request made by the Sydney Morning Herald showed that the Australian government had been told repeatedly by the US that Washington was undertaking "unprecedented" efforts to get Assange, but that Canberra had not once objected.[181]
On 16 October 2012, Lawyers Weekly reported that Assange is considering launching a defamation lawsuit against Gillard.[182]

Members of US Congress call for Espionage Act prosecution

On 29 November 2010, Rep. Peter T. King, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) wrote to the Attorney General, Eric Holder, asking that Assange should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917, and that he should be declared a terrorist.[203][204] The same day, King also wrote to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, requesting that she designate Wikileaks as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).[203][205][206]
"I am calling on the attorney general and supporting his efforts to fully prosecute Wikileaks and its founder for violating the Espionage Act. And I’m also calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to declare Wikileaks a foreign terrorist organization", King said on WNIS radio on Sunday evening.[207]
"By doing that, we will be able to seize their funds and go after anyone who provides them help or contributions or assistance whatsoever,” he said. “To me, they are a clear and present danger to America."
On 30 November 2010, on Fox News, Rep. King repeated his assertions that Wikileaks was a terrorist organisation;[208] he continued to repeat these assertions on other news media channels for the following week.
On 2 December 2010, Senator Feinstein and Senator Kit Bond, respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), sent a joint-letter to Attorney General Holder, asking him to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act [18 U.S.C. 793(e)], offering to "close those gaps in the law" if the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) found it difficult to apply the law to Assange's case. In televised interviews Senators Bond and Feinstein stated that:
"We believe that Mr. Assange's conduct is espionage and that his actions fall under the elements of this section of law....Therefore, we urge that he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act."[209]
On 7 December 2010, Senator Feinstein published an editorial commentary on Assange entitled "Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act".[210] Punishments under the Espionage Act can include the death penalty, although in practice the US has not executed anyone for a crime other than murder since 1964 when James Coburn was executed in Alabama for robbery.[211]

Support in the United States

Daniel Ellsberg, who was working in the US Department of Defense when he leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was a signatory to a statement by an international group of former intelligence officers and ex-government officials in support of Assange's work, which was released in late December 2010. Other signatories included David MacMichaelRay McGovern, and five recipients of annual Sam Adams AwardFrank GrevilKatharine GunCraig MurrayColeen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson.[212] Ellsberg has said, "If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me … I would be called not only a traitor – which I was [called] then, which was false and slanderous – but I would be called a terrorist … Assange andBradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am."[213]
Some other US prominent public figures that have repeatedly voiced independent support for Assange (in the context of his fight against extradition and possible US prosecution) include: feminist author Naomi Wolf, filmmaker Oliver Stone, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, journalist Glenn GreenwaldEFF founder John Perry Barlow.[214][215]

Support from other countries

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, then president of Brazil, expressed his "solidarity" with Assange following his 2010 arrest in the United Kingdom.[216][217] He further criticised the arrest of Assange as "an attack on freedom of expression".[218]
Vladimir Putin, then Prime Minister of Russia, condemned Assange's detention as "undemocratic".[186] A source within the office of the Russian President suggested that Assange be nominated for a Nobel Prize and said that "Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him."[219]
In December 2010, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank LaRue, said that Assange or other WikiLeaks staff should not face criminal charges for any information they disseminated, noting that "if there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of the media that publish it. And this is the way that transparency works and that corruption has been confronted in many cases."[220]
Prominent public figures from outside the US and Australia that have repeatedly voiced independent support for Assange (in the context of his fight against extradition and possible US prosecution) include: President of Ecuador Rafael Correa, filmmaker Ken Loach, investigative journalist John Pilger, Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, writer & activist Tariq Ali, fundraiserJemima Khan, human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge[221][222][223][224]

Recognition

Assange received the 2009 Amnesty International UK Media Award (New Media),[225] for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya by distributing and publicizing the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)'s investigation Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances.[5][226][227] Accepting the award, Assange said, "It is a reflection of the courage and strength of Kenyan civil society that this injustice was documented."[228]
In 2010, Assange was awarded the Sam Adams Award,[229][230] Readers' Choice in TIME magazine's Person of the Year poll,[231] and runner-up for Person of the Year.[232] In April 2011 he was listed on the Time 100 list of most influential people.[233] An informal poll of editors at Postmedia Network named him the top newsmaker for the year after six out of 10 felt Assange had "affected profoundly how information is seen and delivered".[234][235]
Le Monde, one of the five publications to cooperate with WikiLeaks' publication of the recent document leaks, named him person of the year with fifty six percent of the votes in their online poll.[236][237][238]
In February 2011, it was announced that Assange had been awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation gold medal by the Sydney Peace Foundation of the University of Sydney for his "exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights."[239] There have been four recipients of the award in the foundation's 14-year history: Nelson Mandela; the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso;Daisaku Ikeda; and Assange.[239]
In June 2011, Assange was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The prize is awarded on an annual basis to journalists "whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or 'official drivel'". The judges said, "WikiLeaks has been portrayed as a phenomenon of the hi-tech age, which it is. But it's much more. Its goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism."[240][241]
In November 2011, he was awarded the 2011 Walkley Award in the category Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism. The annual Walkley Awards honour excellence in journalism, and the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, awarded since 1994, recognises commitment and achievement in the Australian media.[242][243]
On 17 September 2012, the Indigenous Social Justice Association awarded Assange an Australian Aboriginal passport in a ceremony in Sydney.[244][245] The legality of the passport has been questioned as it is intended for internal Australian use between Aboriginal lands.[246][247]
Assange has been a member of the Australian journalists' union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, for several years, and in 2011 was made an honorary member.[248][249] Alex Massiewrote an article in The Spectator called "Yes, Julian Assange is a journalist", but acknowledged that "newsman" might be a better description.[250] Alan Dershowitz said "Without a doubt. He is a journalist, a new kind of journalist".[251] Assange has said that he has been publishing factual material since age 25, and that it is not necessary to debate whether or not he is a journalist. He has stated that his role is "primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organises and directs other journalists".[252] He has been described as a journalist by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.[4]

Allegations of sexual assault and political refugee

On 20 August 2010, Swedish police began an investigation into allegations concerning Assange's behaviour in separate sexual encounters involving two women.[253][254] Assange has described all the sexual encounters as consensual, and statements by the plaintiffs confirm that the encounters at least started as such.[255][256] The arrest warrant was cancelled on 21 August 2010 by one of Stockholm's Chief Prosecutors, Eva Finne, and the investigation was downgraded to only cover one of the lesser allegations. Finne said in a statement to the press: "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape."[257] The warrant was subsequently re-issued on 1 September 2010 by another Swedish Chief Prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who said in a statement; "Considering information available at present, my judgement is that the classification of the crime is rape."[258]
In December 2010, Assange, then in Britain, learned that the Swedish authorities had issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to extradite him to Sweden for questioning. Assange voluntarily attended a police station in England on 7 December 2010, and was arrested and taken into custody. After ten days in Wandsworth prison, Assange was freed on bail with a residence requirement at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England, fitted with an electronic tag and ordered to report to police daily.
The EAW contained four complaints from two different women: that on 14 August 2010 he committed "unlawful coercion" when he held plaintiff 1 down with his body weight in a sexual manner; that he "sexually molested" plaintiff 1 when he had condom-less sex with her after she insisted that he use one; that he had condom-less sex with plaintiff 2 on the morning of 17 August while she was asleep; and that he "deliberately molested" plaintiff 1 on 18 August 2010 by pressing his erect penis against her body.[259][260]
An extradition hearing took place on 7–8 and 11 February 2011 before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.[261][262] At the hearing, Assange's defence raised a variety of objections, including mismatches between the EAW and the original accuser statements to the Swedish police[263][264] that exaggerated the nature of the complaints.[265][266] In particular they argued the original police reports showed - contrary to the EAW - absence of alleged rape; absence of alleged force or injury; admission in both cases of consensual sex on the same occasions as the allegations; and splitting of a condom used with plaintiff 1 rather than failure to use one.
The defence also highlighted evidence that: plaintiff 2 had later admitted to being "half asleep" after consensual sex, rather than "asleep"; that the plaintiffs had originally been seeking to compel Assange to take an STD test rather than prosecution;[267] and that plaintiff 1 had thrown a Crayfish party for Assange at her home the evening after the alleged incidents, from which she tweeted: "Sitting outdoors at 02:00 and hardly freezing with the world's coolest, smartest people! It's amazing!" and invited Assange to stay in her room afterwards.[268][269]
On 24 February 2011, the court upheld the extradition warrant.[270][271][272][273] On 2 March 2011, Assange's lawyers lodged papers at the High Court challenging the ruling to extradite Assange to Sweden,[274] saying the allegations were "without basis".[275][276] After a hearing on 12 and 13 July 2011, the High Court reserved its judgement. On 2 November 2011 the High Court upheld the extradition decision and rejected all four grounds of appeal presented by Assange's legal representatives. Costs of £19,000 were also awarded against Assange.[277] He was freed on bail of £200,000 which was posted by a group of friends and supporters, including the socialite Jemima Khan, journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and publisher Felix Dennis. Amongst those offering £20,000 sureties each were retired Professor Tricia David, Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston (who helped unravel the human genome), former Sunday Times journalist Phillip Knightley, Lady Caroline Evans (wife of former Labour minister Lord Evans), his personal friend, catering manager Sarah Saunders and Frontline Club founder Captain Vaughan Smith, who provided his Norfolk Country mansion as a bail address. Marchioness Tracy Worcester, the model and actress turned environmental campaigner, offered £10,000 while his Wikileaks assistants Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison, both agreed to £5,000 each. On 5 September 2012, Westminster Magistrates Court ruled that due to Assange not surrendering himself to the police by the due date (11.30am 29 June 2012) their bond was now forfeit and that they had a further three weeks to show cause as to why they should not pay the money.[122]
On 5 December 2011, Assange's lawyers were granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, after the High Court certified that a point of law of general public importance, that ought to be considered by the Supreme Court, was involved in its decision.[278] The certified question was whether a prosecutor can be a judicial authority.[279][280] The Supreme Court heard argument in the appeal on 1 and 2 February 2012.[281] and reserved its judgment,[282] while Assange remained on conditional bail.[274][283] On 30 May 2012 the court dismissed the appeal by a majority of 5–2.[284] The court granted Assange two weeks to make an application to reopen the appeal after his counsel argued the judgments of the majority relied on an interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which was not argued during the hearing.[285]
Barring any appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, extradition had been expected to take place over a ten-day period commencing on 28 June 2012.[286]

Request for political asylum in Ecuador

In December 2011, Assange's lawyer in Britain, Mark Stephens, repeated Assange's earlier claims that the allegations in Sweden were a "holding case" whilst the United States prepared its prosecution over Wikileaks's activities. He said Assange could face extradition or illegal rendition from Sweden to the US, where he could be detained in a high-security prison and face the death penalty under the Espionage Act of 1917. Stephens also stated his belief that Swedish officials were co-operating with US authorities.[287]

Political and economic views

Assange basically agrees with Tariq Ali and Noam Chomsky in supporting countries which are independent of the large powers: NATO, the United States, Russia or China. According to these views the United States controls the world by setting up regimes, including replacement regimes. This is done by cooperation of the government, the media and large corporations.[333]
In a video released by Wikileaks channel in January 2013, Assange sided with the Iranian Islamic (Shiite) regime, saying that they cannot deal with human rights concerns because of the country's intense fear of being attacked by hostile governments on all its borders. He said that banning Hizbullah affiliated Al Manar broadcasts was "killing off" that TV station. Assange noted that "Democracies are always lied into war" by intelligence institutions but more importantly by the large media outlets which are culturally biased.[334]
In a supportive interview with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nassrallah,[where?] Assange said that he wished to understand how millions see him as a liberator, while millions of others see him as a terrorist. He asked Nassrallah if the Israeli claims that Hizubullah is deliberately targeting civilians is true, and accepted Nassrallah's answer that it was a way of protecting their own towns. He then asked about Nassrallah's support for Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria, and accepted Nassrallah's answer that Assad was supportive of the Palestinian and anti-American efforts throughout the years, while the funding for the war within Syria is coming from external countries such as the US. Nassrallah said that he was supportive of a political solution without war and that the reason this was not happening was due to Israeli, American and Sunni interests coming from organisations such as Al-Quaeda. Nassrallah also said that Arab regimes supporting the Syrian uprising were doing so in order to appease the US and other western governments. Assange concluded the interview by discussing a joke he enjoyed about encryption that Nassrallah had told during the second Lebanon War. According to Assange, "It's not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I've learned from many. But one is American libertarianismmarket libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free."[335]




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