Julian Assange
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Julian Assange

The Fifth Estate

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About Him

Grew Up... in Australia, under mysterious circumstances. When he was 13, his mother started dating a guy who was part of a “nasty Australian cult” called The Family. As Julian put it, “They believed in blue auras and cleansing souls and had a surprisingly large network of influence, extending to the highest levels of government. My mum knew the guy was a wanker, but by the time she came to her senses they’d had a kid together and we spent the next three years on the run.”

Living… wherever he can avoid detection and capture. At the moment, that’s at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after he had to flee Berlin.  Living anywhere else is unfeasible at this point. He finds it ironic that his beliefs are what keep him in captivity. He considers his values to be those of Jefferson and Madison – revolutionary, speaking truth to power. For now, he’ll have to do it under house arrest.

Profession… computer hacker, activist, and co-founder of Wikileaks, a non-profit organization that publishes classified documents in an attempt to expose corruption and other wrongdoing. The key to Wikileaks’ success is its pledge not to reveal the identities of its sources. Assange sees Wikileaks as a group of cyberpunks fighting for freedom. The governments of the world see them as aiding and abetting their enemies.

Interests… data encryption and computer programming. Since his twenties, Assange has been on the forefront of software development for the storage of sensitive information. In fact, Wikileaks is based on an earlier venture of his called Rubberhose, a tool that hid sensitive information beneath layers of fake data. This makes sources untraceable and the site impenetrable and impossible to monitor.

Relationship Status… difficult to maintain, given his line of work and constant movement. Assange prefers flings to long-term commitments. It’s safer for all involved – emotionally and politically.

Challenge… bringing down multi-national corporations and superpowers. Assange wants the “fascists” in charge to be replaced with artists and anarchists. He sees a fundamental hypocrisy between the American ideals of free speech and press and the U.S. government’s intense efforts to censor and shut down Wikileaks and arrest Assange.

Personality… provocative and a proverbial bomb-thrower. Just sample one of his many rants: “Castro began a revolution with 82 men. It doesn’t matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action. You don’t get far in this world by relying on others. People are loyal until it seems opportune not to be. The tyrants we’re up against have money and men and guns and I don’t have an army to fight them. All I’ve got is a website and a couple of fake email addresses.”

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