Julian Assange

Julian Paul Assange (/əˈsɑːnʒ/;[3] born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor, publisher and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. 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),[4][5] 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.[6]

Julian Assange
Assange in 2014
Born
Julian Paul Hawkins

(1971-07-03) 3 July 1971 (age 50)
Citizenship
  • Australia
  • Ecuador (2018–2021)
Occupation
  • Editor
  • activist
Years active1986–present
EraGlobal surveillance
Known forFounding WikiLeaks
TitleDirector[1] and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks (until September 2018); publisher (since September 2018)[2]
Political party
Criminal charge(s)Conspiracy to commit computer intrusion
Criminal statusImprisoned in HMP Belmarsh
Spouse(s)Teresa (divorced)
Partner(s)Stella Moris-Smith Robertson (2015–present)
ChildrenAt least 4
AwardsFull list
Signature

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On 11 April 2019, Assange's asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities. The police were invited into the embassy, and he was arrested.[15] He was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.[16] The United States government unsealed an indictment against Assange, related to the leaks provided by Chelsea 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.[17][18] 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 his mental health.[19] On 6 January 2021, Assange was denied bail, pending an appeal by the United States.[20]

Assange has been confined in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London since April 2019.[21]