Julian Assange, born and raised in Townsville, a small town in Queensland, Australia has made international headlines as a Whistleblower.
At the young age of 16, he began hacking and formed a hacking group called ‘The International Subversives’. A few years later, he was caught hacking into a government security website and was charged. However, he was soon he was released on good behavior and a hefty fine; this was his cue into entering the digital world of confidential information.
In 1993, He started assisting Victoria Police Child Exploitation Unit, to catch offenders responsible for uploading child pornography.
He went on to study at Central Queensland University (1994), mathematics, programming, and Physics. He pursued further studies at the University of Melbourne (2006) but did not go on to complete the same. In the same year, he went on to establish Wikileaks along with others. For the next 4 years, he went around the world as a part of his work to collect information.
The 50-year old today is popularly known for the same website WikiLeaks, which published various leaked information, as claimed backed by strong authorities from who have been close to power/ line of action, to establish the truth.
Julian started garnering international attention in 2008 when his website during the US Elections published the contents of the Running Republican Candidate’s e-mail contents. This was followed by details of a nuclear accident in the Iranian Nuclear Facility.
He broke the headlines again in 2010, when a former US Army Soldier aided the publishing over two-hundred thousand confidential documents for what was known as ‘Cable Gate’ spanning over half a century, post the Second World War. They contained vital information such as analysis on various world leaders, and their studies about countries where various missions were served by the Americans. It contained extremely sensitive material, especially pertaining to Iraq and Afghan War Logs as well, The most attention-seeking amongst them was the ‘collateral murder video.
The US government probed and court-martialed Officer Manning, convicting him of espionage and other charges for leaking these documents. Soon after the same, Assange had to flee the U.S. to avoid prosecution, as his work had major global implications for their perspective on the wars in the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian region.
In May 2011 Assange was awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation’s gold medal, for his “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.” Assange’s memoir, Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, was published against his wishes in September 2011.
In 2012, after his extradition appeal was denied by the Supreme Court, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy. He applied for asylum on the grounds that “extradition to Sweden could lead to eventual prosecution in the United States for actions related to WikiLeaks”.
Assange claimed a politically inclined move could be made against him, and subject him to the death penalty. Accepting his request for the same, he was however confined within the walls of the Embassy.
Assange also went on to publicly attempt to damage Hilary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and leaked their internal conversations. In early 2017 a declassified U.S. intelligence report stated that “Assange and WikiLeaks had been key parts of a sophisticated hybrid warfare campaign orchestrated by Russia against the United States”.
In 2019, when Assange was in the later years of his asylum in Ecuador, President withdrew the grant, as a result of his violation of international law and attempt to meddle into internal matters of Ecuador, a claim that is disputed, as WikiLeaks then was working on exposing the President and linked corruption trails.
This was followed by his arrest by British Officials in 2019 on failing to appear in court. He was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion (i.e. hacking into a government computer), which carries a maximum 5-year sentence. Several other charges were pressed against him to prolong his suffering by the British Prison Officials.
A Special Rapporteur appointed by the UN stated regarding Assange, “continued exposure to severe mental and emotional suffering … clearly amounts to psychological torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.