Julian Assange is free and has left the UK. This is who the founder of WikiLeaks is


By John

Julian Assange left yesterday the high security prison in London where he was imprisoned for 5 years and the United Kingdom. To reveal it, WikiLeaks after the announcement of the agreement reached by its founder with the US Department of Justice. According to WikiLeaks, the 52-year-old Australian was taken from Belmarsh prison to Stansted airport in the afternoon from where he boarded a plane.

Assange, an international case born in 2010

A case that “has dragged on too long”, as an Australian government spokesperson defined it, commenting on the news of the agreement reached with the US Department of Justice which allowed the release of Julian Assange, 52, founder of WikiLeaks.

It was in 2010, in fact, that Julian Paul Assange – Hawkins born in Townsville, the Australian city where he was born on 3 July 1971 – gained wide international notoriety for having revealed through WikiLeaks, the organization founded in 2006 of which is co-founder, classified US documents, received by former soldier Chelsea Manning, regarding war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, causing national security problems for the United States according to the US Department of Justice.

A publication that brought him various accolades and honors (including the Sam Adams Award, the Gold Medal for Peace with Justice from the Sydney Peace Foundation and the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Award), even the proposal of a Nobel Prize for peace, but also a series of problems with American justice and beyond.

The huge series of cables showed that Washington had spied on the UN leadership and that Saudi Arabia had pressured the United States to attack Iran.
In November of that year, a Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two women. Assange denied the charges, claiming consensual sexual intercourse, but was arrested after presenting himself to the London police. A week later he was released on bail.

Since 11 April 2019 Assange had been in prison in Belmarsh, UK, first for breaching bail terms following the controversial rape charges in Sweden (formalised in 2010 and dismissed in 2017), and then in relation to a request of extradition brought by the United States of America on charges of conspiracy. Assange appealed, arguing that the Swedish charges were just a pretext to move him to the United States to face WikiLeaks charges. In June 2012 he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Ecuador, then governed by leftist president Rafael Correa, granted him asylum. In December, Ecuador granted Assange nationality but Britain blocked it from granting him diplomatic status.

In January 2018, Ecuador, now governed by conservative President Lenin Moreno, said hosting Assange had become “unsustainable.” Tensions peaked in April 2019 when Moreno claimed Assange had “repeatedly violated” the conditions of her asylum and revoked his citizenship. The next day, British police drag Assange out of the embassy and arrest him on a US extradition request. In May he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for violating bail in 2010. The legal process for his extradition to the United States begins.

In May 2019, the US Department of Justice accuses Assange of violating the US Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic documents in 2010. If convicted, he faces prison sentences of up to 175 years. Assange makes his first court appearance since his jailing via video link.
Detention and accusations that sparked a strong protest around the world and appeals for the release from the public opinion and various human rights organizations, until the UN rapporteur on torture took action in November 2019, also endorsed by the Council of ‘Europe.

On 5 January 2021, English justice denied Assange’s extradition for medical reasons, specifically for the sake of his mental health, as there was a high risk of suicidal tendencies.
On 10 December 2021, the High Court of London overturned the ruling that denied extradition. A further step towards Assange’s surrender to the American courts took place on 14 March 2022: the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom rejected the appeal presented by the lawyers of the Australian, leaving the final decision to Home Secretary Patel. On 21 April 2022, Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London issued the formal extradition order to the USA.

Who is Julian Assange

Childhood and education

Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Queensland, in 1971. His parents met during a demonstration against the Vietnam War. The son of theater actors, Assange spent an eventful childhood, moving house 37 times and studying in city libraries without attending school. At sixteen, he was already able to write programs for the Commodore 64. At seventeen he left home, married the following year and became a father, but subsequently separated from his wife.

Hacker activities and first convictions

Towards the end of the 1980s, Assange became a member of the hacker group known as “International Subversives” under the pseudonym of “Mendax“. In 1991, the Australian Federal Police raided his home in Melbourne, accusing him of having infiltrated various computer systems, including those of the US Department of Defense. In 1992, he was accused of 24 computer hacking crimes, convicted and subsequently released for good behavior.

WikiLeaks and journalistic activity

In 2006, Assange was among the promoters of the WikiLeaks site, which publishes documents from anonymous sources and secret information. WikiLeaks gained international notoriety in 2010 when it published classified documents provided by Chelsea Manning, including the “Collateral Murder” video and diaries from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. These revelations lead the US government to launch an investigation into WikiLeaks and Assange.

Legal problems and political asylum

In 2010, Assange was accused of sexual crimes in Sweden, which he claimed was a pretext to extradite him to the United States. After various legal events, in 2012 he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, obtaining political asylum. He remains there for nearly seven years, during which he continues to run WikiLeaks and make public statements, but develops health problems due to the prolonged stay in solitary confinement.

Extradition and detention

In 2019, the new government of Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum, allowing British police to arrest him. He is sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail terms. In 2020, a British court denies the US extradition request, citing his mental condition and risk of suicide in solitary confinement. Assange remains detained pending an appeal against extradition.

Personal life

During his detention, Julian Assange gets married to Stella Morris, one of his lawyers. The wedding is celebrated in Belmarsh maximum security prison, with a small group of guests.

Julian Assange is considered a hero by his supporters for his fight for government transparency and accountability, while his detractors accuse him of espionage and putting national security at risk.