The name Julian Assange has cropped up a number of times in recent months. Revealed as the head honcho behind the whistleblower-website "Wikileaks", the media attention surrounding this man has hit astronomical heights, but who is he?
Julian Assange was born in Queensland, Australia on the 3rd July 1971. In recent years he has acquired "fame" as the founder editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, a website that leaks classified documents into the public domain. These documents often contain sensitive information regarding government actions and personal details (Wikileaks once release the BNP members list).
Wikileaks was founded in 2006. Soon after its inception, Assange wrote about the Wikileaks ethos, stating:
"To radically shift regime behaviour we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not."
"The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.... Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance."
There are growing calls from the USA for his extradition and trial as a terrorist. Government officials claim that the information released by Wikileaks could endanger the lives of servicemen and women in action across the globe. Wikileaks has revealed a number of Embassy Cables (a private text message between diplomatic bodies) that concern US actions. Although many have openly criticised Assange's approach to revealing sensitive information, he has have a lot of praise heaped on him by human rights organisations like Amnesty International, who awarded him for the release of documents containing information on extrajudicial killings in Kenya.
As of February 24th 2011, Julian Assange was residing in the UK on bail, awaiting the outcome of an extradition hearing. He is currently wanted for questioning in Sweden regarding claims of sexual offences, but Assange and his lawyers claim the allegations are "politically motivated". On February 24th he lost his appeal against extradition, meaning that he will be sent to Sweden to face the allegations made against him.