Founder of WikiLeaks
BIOGRAPHY SUMMARYIn 2006, Australian computer programmer Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks, the website that would eventually gain worldwide fame for publishing Chelsea Manning’s leaked Afghan and Iraq war files. Assange remains a controversial figure, currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under fear of extradition to the United States.
Julian Assange Overview ‧ read
Background in ethical hacking
In 1991, Australian Federal Police raided Assange’s home, eventually charging him with 31 counts of hacking and related crimes. He pleaded guilty to 25 and was released with a fine because of his age and lack of malicious intent. Two years later, Assange would cooperate with local law enforcement, providing technical assistance and helping prosecute child pornographers.
WikiLeaks finally gained international attention in 2010 when U.S. Army intelligence analyst used the website to leak the largest set of classified documents ever released, including 400,000 files’ worth of Afghan and Iraq war logs, hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department cables, and a particularly damning video of an airstrike in Baghdad, which WikiLeaks titled “Collateral Murder.”
Since the Manning leaks, WikiLeaks has continued to publish more secret documents including the Guantanamo Bay files, the Syria files, and emails from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta.
How WikiLeaks keeps sources anonymous
- Encrypted electronic drop boxes that allow sources to submit information anonymously
- Submission from neutral locations like net cafes and wireless hotspots, so sources can’t be traced even if WikiLeaks is infiltrated by an external agency
- Cover domains that get past government blocks on websites that include the WikiLeaks name and defend against denial of service (DoS) attacks
- Hosting on multiple servers owned by hosting companies that support WikiLeaks
- Tor and PGP anonymity software anonymity software
Around the same time, Swedish authorities opened a case against Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange denied the allegations, and the investigation was eventually dropped, but not before Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he still resides today.
Despite the lack of formal charges from the U.S. or Sweden, Assange and his supporters believe that if he set foot outside the embassy, he would be swiftly detained by law enforcement on an outstanding British arrest warrant, whereupon he could be extradited to the U.S.
In 2017, the embassy granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship and attempted to appoint him to a diplomatic position at its embassy in Moscow, a move that was blocked by British authorities.