01:09 GMT21 September 2020
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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday marks four years of his stay inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK capital of London.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) On June 19, 2012, Assange asked the South American nation for asylum, citing the UN declaration of human rights.

    On August 16, 2012, Ecuador decided to grant Assange refuge after weeks of consideration of evidence proving he had been a target of politically motivated harassment, thus helping him to avoid persecution by the United States, where he could face multiple espionage charges.

    Julian Paul Assange was born on July 3, 1971 in the north Queensland city of Townsville, Australia. 

    ​When he was a year old, his mother married Richard Brett Assange, the director of a wandering theater company. Julian had a nomadic childhood, traveling around with his family. When Assange was eight, his mother divorced her husband and became involved with Leif Meynell, a member of the controversial Australian New Age group The Family, with whom she had a son. As the group took newborns away from their mothers, the woman and her sons ran away from Meynell. It happened before Julian turned 16.

    The family changed homes 37 times. Julian sometimes went to school in a new town, but he was mostly homeschooled, taught by his mother. He was interested in scientific literature and eventually developed a passion for programming. In his autobiography, Assange said that he went to 37 different schools and six universities.

    Assange studied mathematics and physics at several Australian universities, including Central Queensland University, Australian National University and the University of Melbourne, but did not complete a degree.

    Assange began his hacking "career" at the age of 16, when he created an organization called Worms Against Nuclear Killers (WANK) together with friends. They became well-known in October 1989, when the abbreviation WANK appeared on the NASA computer network just before the space shuttle Atlantis landed. 

    In their activities, the hackers followed the following rules: "Don't damage computer systems you break into; don't change the information in those systems; and share information". 

    ​In 1991, Assange was found hacking into the computer system of Nortel, a multinational telecommunications corporation, and was prosecuted.

    In 1994, a court ordered him to pay a symbolic fine and released him due to the perceived absence of malicious or mercenary intent. Meanwhile, unable to cope with the stress, Assange's wife left him, taking their two-year child with her.

    After that, Assange changed several IT jobs, developed a number of network security and routing programs, and was even an adviser on computer security systems. 

    ​In 1997, he contributed research to the book called Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, authored by Australian journalist Suelette Dreyfus. In 1998, Assange traveled around the world, and also visited Russia.

    In 1998, he co-founded the company Earthmen Technology with the aim of developing network intrusion detection technologies.

    In 2006, Assange founded WikiLeaks, a website which publishes secret or restricted materials exposing corruption and wrongdoing. Initially, WikiLeaks’ goal was to expose corruption in Central Asia, China and Russia, but it also posted significant amounts of material exposing government and corporate wrongdoing in the West. 

    ​Assange led a team of nine project coordinators. He did not describe himself as its "founder" but only as "editor-in-chief," acknowledging that he had the final say in posting documents on the website.

    In 2008, the US Army Counterintelligence Center designated WikiLeaks a potential threat to the military.

    Assange won the Amnesty International UK Media Award in 2009 for a series of materials exposing corruption in Kenya.

    In July 2010, around 77,000 secret Afghanistan war logs were published by WikiLeaks.

    On November 28, 2010, US secret diplomatic cables were made public.

    Assange admitted that he and his associates had to take precautions as they received threats. He drifted around the world, spending most of the time in Sweden, where in August 2010 he became a columnist for the daily Aftonbladet. Later the same month Swedish police put the WikiLeaks founder on a wanted list for questioning on two counts of rape alleged to have been committed against two women. Assange denied the allegations, and his arrest warrant was soon recalled, as prosecutors decided that the suspicions against him were groundless.

    In November 2010, a Stockholm court issued another arrest warrant for Assange on allegations of rape and molestation. On November 20, Interpol put him on an international wanted list on charges of sex crimes.

    On December 7, Assange was arrested by London police after turning himself in to the authorities.

    On December 16, London’s High Court released Assange on cash guarantees of 240,000 pounds pending examination of Sweden’s extradition request.

    In 2010, Assange received the Time readers' choice award for person of the year.

    In 2010, Assange was placed 58th in Guardian's annual list of the top 100 most influential figures in UK media.

    On February 24, 2011, the UK Supreme Court ruled to extradite Assange to Sweden.

    The WikiLeaks founder subsequently lost a series of appeals.

    In November 2011, Australian journalists awarded WikiLeaks the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

    On May 30, 2012, the UK Supreme Court refused his extradition appeal.

    As of June 2012, Assange has been taking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London. Swedish authorities demand his extradition from the United Kingdom. Ecuador is granting Assange political asylum on August 16, 2012, but UK authorities say they are determined to "honor their obligations" to Sweden.

    Assange’s lawyers argue that the 2010 arrest warrant should be cancelled on the grounds that during all these years, Swedish investigators have failed to question him because they consider it counterproductive to travel to London to question a suspect. Nevertheless, on July 16, 2014, a Stockholm court denied the lawyers’ plea and upheld the warrant. On September 12, Assange's lawyers challenged the ruling. In November, the Swedish Court of Appeal for Svealand upheld its arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder.

    In the spring of 2011, media reports said that Assange would write his autobiography to cover legal costs, for which he would receive over $1.5 million. In late September, 2011, Canongate, a Scottish publishing firm, published the book without Assange’s consent.

    According to the publishers, Assange signed a contract to write the book, but after sitting with a ghost writer for more than 50 hours of taped interviews, he was unhappy with the first version of the book, thinking it was too intimate. Because Assange had been paid an advance and had not returned the money, Canongate went ahead and published the book under the title Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography.

    In April 2012, RT broadcaster launched Assange’s exclusive project, called The World Tomorrow. It is television discussion series featuring Assange as host.

    In September 2014, Assange’s book When Google Met WikiLeaks was published in English. On December 3, the author made a video presentation for Madrid in Spanish. In his book, Assange claims that Google has collaborated with the US government, specifically the State Department.

    On February 5, 2015, govwaste.co.uk published that UK government has wasted 10 million pounds sterling ($15.2 million) in public funds to place WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under police watch.

    On August 13, 2015, the investigation on an incident of suspected unlawful coercion and an incident of sexual molestation against Assange was dropped. Later that day, the UK Foreign Office tried to shift the blame for the expiration of charges against Assange from Swedish prosecutors to Ecuador.

    The statute of limitation on an additional incident of sexual molestation expired on August 18, 2015. Yet, the more serious rape allegation remains enforceable until August 17, 2020.

    To date, Swedish investigators have not questioned Assange, saying that traveling to London with that purpose is "counterproductive."

    A UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled in February, 2016 that the Australian whistleblower and journalist was "arbitrarily detained" in London and should be released. Both the United Kingdom and Sweden defied this decision.

    A Swedish district court ruled on May 25 that the WikiLeaks founder must remain detained in absentia to prevent him from fleeing after he was accused of rape.

    On June 7, Assange spoke at the New Era of Journalism: Farewell to Mainstream forum, hosted by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency. His speech was delivered remotely via a video conference.

    A Global Event marking the fourth anniversary of Assange’s political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy is due to be held simultaneously in major European and US cities with the action’s participants calling to liberate the founder of the secrets-sharing site.


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