Baca berita tanpa iklan. Gabung

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.

Read also: Indonesia’s Tokopedia User Data Hacked, Sold, and Shared on Facebook

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.

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.

Hands-on father

Moris described Assange as someone who "loves children" and a "hands-on father", who speaks to his sons regularly, although to his youngest, Max, now aged 18 months, he is a "disembodied voice on the phone".

Assange has an adult son, Daniel, who was born near Melbourne in 1980, and at least one more child, who was living in France.

Moris, who changed her name from Sara Gonzalez Devant for security reasons after getting involved with Assange, said the couple planned to marry and he proposed using a virtual-reality headset.

Assange's situation changed after the new government in Quito turned him over to British police in April 2019. He was arrested for jumping bail and jailed.

Swedish prosecutors confirmed last year they had dropped the rape investigation, saying that despite a "credible" account from the alleged victim there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

Read also: Cultural Norms Stall Deliberations of Indonesia's Sexual Violence Bill

But as he had feared, after his arrest it was revealed that Washington was charging him with violating the US Espionage Act over the 2010 leaks.

Ties with Russia?

Julian Assange was initially supported by human rights groups and newspapers that once worked with him to edit and publish US war logs.

They included a leaked video showing a US military Apache helicopter firing on and killing two journalists and several Iraqi civilians on a Baghdad street in 2007.

But many were horrified when WikiLeaks dumped unredacted documents online, including the names of informants, and Assange fell out spectacularly with erstwhile media partners such as The New York Times and The Guardian newspaper.

Questions also mounted about his relationship with Russia.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into interference in the 2016 US presidential election found that Russians hacked Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign, "and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks".

Read also: Expect Foreign Interference from Russia, China, and Iran in US Presidential Election

In a preliminary court hearing in London in February, Assange's lawyer alleged US President Donald Trump had promised a pardon if he denied that Russia leaked the emails that so damaged Clinton.

The White House denied the claim and Trump — who in 2016 declared his "love" for WikiLeaks — has always angrily rejected allegations that his campaign colluded with the Kremlin. 

(Writer: Alice Ritchie)


Simak breaking news dan berita pilihan kami langsung di ponselmu. Pilih saluran andalanmu akses berita WhatsApp Channel : Pastikan kamu sudah install aplikasi WhatsApp ya.

Comment wisely and responsibly. Comments are entirely the responsibility of the commentator as regulated in the ITE Law
Thank You! We have received your report. We will remove comments that conflict with the Community Guidelines and the ITE Law.

More Headlines

April 14, 2023, 12.38 PM

Indonesia Detects New Covid Arcturus Variant

Baca berita tanpa iklan. Gabung
Baca berita tanpa iklan. Gabung


Baca berita tanpa iklan. Gabung
Baca berita tanpa iklan. Gabung
Close Ads