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Profile: Julian Assange

June 17, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks [FlickR]

Julian Assange was born on July 3, 1971 in Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

He received home-schooling, as well as some correspondence courses.

His exceptional ability of cracking computer codes landed him in trouble as a teenager, when he received a fine from Australian authorities for infiltrating secure systems, including those of NASA and the Pentagon.

Assange studied physics at the University of Melbourne later, but left without a degree before starting work as a computer security consultant.

He created WikiLeaks in 2006, calling himself an investigative journalist.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published around 1 million documents obtained from Chelsea Manning. The documents included US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and alleged war crimes during those wars.

The publication of a further 250,000 confidential documents relating to US efforts to isolate Iran raised eyebrows in Washington.

Then-US President Barrack Obama’s administration reacted to the leaks, describing them as a national security threat. He became a wanted man on the grounds of espionage law. He also faced sexual assault charges in Sweden and was arrested in London in December 2010.

In June 2012, his extradition appeal failed and Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, thinking that his extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the US.

READ: UK government approves extradition order for Julian Assange

Assange was awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation gold medal for his “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.”

The charges in Sweden were dropped later in 2019.

He was dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy building in London in 2019, where he took refuge for more than seven years.

The British police said he was arrested for skipping his bail in 2012 and on behalf of the US due to an extradition warrant.

Later, he was found guilty of breaking his bail terms after failing to surrender to security services by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and given a 50-week prison term.

On April 20, 2022, a British court issued a formal order to extradite WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, to the US to face espionage charges.

Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the order on 17 June, but Assange’s legal team is likely to file a cross-appeal against the decision.

Assange will face 18 counts of hacking the US government computers and violating the espionage law if he is extradited to the US and a potential prison sentence for years.

READ: Criminalising journalists for telling the truth is in nobody’s interest