Julian Paul Assange (/əˈsɑːnʒ/; né Hawkins; born 3 July 1971) is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and Cablegate (November 2010). After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.
In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual assault. Assange said the allegations were a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents. After failing in his battle against extradition to Sweden, he breached bail and took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London in June 2012. He was granted asylum by Ecuador on the grounds of political persecution, with the presumption that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would be eventually extradited to the US. Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation in 2019, saying their evidence had weakened over time.
In July 2016, WikiLeaks released documents from the Democratic National Committee showing that it favoured Hillary Clinton’s campaign and had tried to undercut Bernie Sanders, leading to the resignation of party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged twelve Russian intelligence officers with computer hacking and working with WikiLeaks and other organisations to disseminate the documents. Assange said that the Russian government was not the source of the DNC and Podesta emails.
On 11 April 2019, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities. The police were invited into the embassy, and he was arrested. He was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison. The United States government unsealed an indictment against Assange, related to the leaks provided by Chelsea Manning. On 23 May 2019, the United States government further charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Editors from newspapers including The Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as press freedom organisations, criticised the government’s decision to charge Assange under the Espionage Act, characterising it as an attack on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press. Assange is incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh, reportedly in ill health. On 2 May 2019, hearings began into the US government’s request to extradite him. A decision on extradition is expected on 4 January 2021.
Source: Wikipedia Nov 2020