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.
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.
For seven years he lived in a small apartment in the embassy, exercising on a treadmill and using a sun lamp to make up for the lack of natural light in a situation he compared to living in a space station.
It was revealed in April that Assange had fathered two children with his partner, South Africa-born lawyer Stella Moris, while at the embassy.
Moris, 37, told The Times newspaper in an interview published on Saturday that she informed Assange she was pregnant with Gabriel, now three, by writing it down on a piece of paper to avoid surveillance.
He watched the birth on livestream and the baby was smuggled into the embassy with the help of an actor friend posing as his father, she said.