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Leaker of Govt Secrets Julian Assange Back in the Spotlight

September 8, 2020, 05.07 PM

LONDON, – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in the spotlight following news of his extradition hearing.

The highly polarizing figure is mostly known either as a fearless campaigner for democratic openness or as a criminal trying to avoid justice.

Julian Assange has spent the majority of the past decade in custody or holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy as the Australian national tries to avoid extradition — first to Sweden to answer allegations of rape, and then to the United States.

Read also: The Netherlands to Penalize Groups Silent on Reporting Sexual Abuse

The 49-year-old WikiLeaks founder spearheaded the whistleblowing website which exposed government secrets worldwide.

Among the information leaked were US military and diplomatic files related to the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Born in Townsville, Queensland in 1971, Assange has described a nomadic childhood and claims to have attended 37 schools before settling in Melbourne.

As a teenager, Assange discovered a talent for computer hacking, which soon brought him to the attention of Australian police.

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He admitted most of the charges leveled against him and walked away with a fine.

After launching WikiLeaks in 2006 with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts, he was constantly on the move, bouncing between cities and frequently changing his phone number.

"We are creating a new standard for a free press," Assange told AFP in an interview in August 2010.

Embassy asylum

His current legal saga began in 2010 — soon after he published revelations from classified documents about US military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — with rape allegations in Sweden, which he always denied.

He was in Britain at the time but dodged an attempt to extradite him to Sweden by claiming political asylum in the Ecuador embassy.


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