Killing Secrets: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Compilation 2010-2019

Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor, publisher and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. Listen to an audiobook on Assange:

WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and Cablegate (November 2010). After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.

In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct.[7] Assange said the allegations were a pretext for his extradition from Sweden to the United States over his role in the publication of secret American documents.[8][9] After losing his battle against extradition to Sweden, he breached bail and took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London in June 2012.[10] He was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012[11] on the grounds of political persecution, with the presumption that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would be eventually extradited to the US.[12] Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation in 2019, saying their evidence had “weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”[13]

During the 2016 U.S. election campaign, WikiLeaks published confidential Democratic Party emails, showing that the party’s national committee favoured Hillary Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders in the primaries.[14]

On 11 April 2019, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities.[15] The police were invited into the embassy and he was arrested.[16] He was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.[17] The United States government unsealed an indictment against Assange related to the leaks provided by Manning. On 23 May 2019, the United States government further charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Editors from newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as press freedom organisations, criticised the government’s decision to charge Assange under the Espionage Act, characterising it as an attack on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press.[18][19] On 4 January 2021, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled against the United States’ request to extradite him and stated that doing so would be “oppressive” given concerns over Mr Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide.[20] On 6 January 2021, Assange was denied bail, pending an appeal by the United States.[21] On 10 December 2021, the High Court in London ruled that Assange can be extradited to the US to face the charges.[22]

Assange has been confined in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London since April 2019.

Views on Assange have been given by a number of public figures, including journalists, well-known whistleblowers, activists and world leaders. In July 2010, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that “Assange has shown much better judgment with respect to what he has revealed than the people who kept those items secret inside the government.”[442] In October 2010, Ellsberg flew to London to give Assange his support.[443] In November 2010, an individual from the office of Dmitry Medvedev, the President of Russia, suggested that Assange should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, then President of Brazil, said “They have arrested him and I don’t hear so much as a single protest for freedom of expression”. Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia, asked at a press conference “Why is Mr Assange in prison? Is this democracy?”[446] In the same month, Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, described his activities as “illegal”,[447] but the Australian Federal Police said he had not broken Australian law.[448] Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, was asked whether he saw Assange as closer to a high-tech terrorist than to whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Biden responded that he “would argue it is closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers”.[449] In November 2011, Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club, supported Assange[450] and in July 2012 offered his residence in Norfolk for Assange to continue WikiLeaks’ operations whilst in the UK.[451] In April 2012, interviewed on Assange’s television show World Tomorrow, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa praised WikiLeaks and told his host “Cheer up! Cheer up! Welcome to the club of the persecuted!”