People around the world were shocked to learn that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, had finally been arrested. All of this happened within a span of just a few hours and the world was left in shock. Nothing had been released regarding Assange up to this incident. Many reported that up until his arrests, there was nothing in the works that was known. “If there was a plot being made against him, it was kept very well under wraps. Nobody had any idea that moves were being made against him. We assumed that he’d stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London under their political asylum. We just assumed he’d always have their protection,” said many of the reporters. “He’d been under protection for 7 years. We never saw that changing.”
However, this was not to be the case. On April 11, 2019 the Ecuadorian Embassy that Assange called both his home and his refuge surrendered him. He was immediately arrested and taken into custody where he will face a number of charges. He’ll also face some significant jail time for the “crimes” he committed. Many sources report that the minimum number of years he’ll serve will be 5 while others suggest that 5 is much, much too low. “They’ve been after this guy for a while. There’s no way they’ll let him sit in jail for 5 years before they release him back out into the world. They’re going to keep him there until he rots or at least try their best to do so. Assange has slipped through their fingers so many times. This isn’t the first time they’ve tried to arrest him since he was granted asylum, but it is the first time they’ve gotten him since he went under Ecuador’s protection. There’s no way they’re going to let him slip through their fingers again.”
Wikileaks and Julian Assange
Before the creation of Wikileaks, nobody had really heard of Julian Assange. He was simply another name in a pool of nearly 8 billion. However, in 2006, when Wikileaks made its debut, Julian Assange became a household name. “He went from an absolute nobody to one of the most controversial people to date seemingly overnight. Some thought he was a hero for sharing this information with the world and making government secrets public knowledge. Others thought he was a villain and a traitor. Many wanted to see him hang while others worshipped the ground he walked on. And it this was all thanks to Wikileaks.”
The goal of Wikileaks was to obtain as well as publish previously confidential files, images, and documents to the public. Government databases and secrets were no longer safe; they were to be made public knowledge thanks to Assange and Wikileaks. “We as the public have the right to know what’s going on in the government. We have a right to know the secrets that they are keeping from us,” Assange stated when asked about his website.
It took four years for Wikileaks to really gain any ground though despite its promise to open the public’s eyes. Headlines everywhere featured Assange’s website when Wikileaks published footage of American soldiers killing innocent civilians in Iraq from a helicopter. The American population was disgusted and so was the rest of the world. “I thought we were over there to get rid of the terrorists, not to become terrorists ourselves! You can’t kill innocents like that!” Many rallied behind the leak an were quick to turn on the government and those responsible.
Others were quick to label Julian Assange as a whistleblower and claimed that he was doing more harm than good. “We don’t know all of the circumstances behind that video; we can only make assumptions and that’s dangerous. Assange’s leak is riling up people all over the world and has the potential to cause more harm than good. There’s a reason why a lot of this material is classified, and it should stay that way. Assange has no valid reason to share this kind of content,” many argued.
That same year, Chelsea Manning, who had worked with Assange to gather these documents, was arrested. Because of the former US intelligence analyst’s work, over 700,000 confidential videos, documents, and diplomatic cables were handed over to Wikileaks with the intent of being shared with the public. When confronted about her choices, Manning maintained that she only gave up these documents “to spark debates about foreign policy”. Officials, however, said that the leak put a lot of lives at risk.
Julian Assange seeks refuge
Shockingly, it wasn’t Wikileaks and the rift it caused with American authorities that drove Julian Assange into asylum, though it certainly kept him there.
In 2012 Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. He did so to avoid being extradited to Swedenin regards to a sexual assault case levied against him. Assange was accused of rape, which he adamantly denied. However, the charges of this case have since then been dropped.
Even though the original charges were dropped, Julian Assange remained in asylum for 7 years, up until his arrest. Because of Wikileaks and Julian Assange’s now notorious history of leaking classified documents, Assange couldn’t leave the embassy without fear of being arrested Wikileaks founder couldn’t even leave the embassy; if he was to address the media or the public, it was done from his balcony or within the building itself. “If I leave this place, if I take one step off of the property, I’m going to be arrested,” maintained Assange. The fact that police officers were often present at the building or trying to get to him further confirmed this. “They’re waiting for me to slip up so they can get me. I can’t even go get my own meals, I must have them brought to me. Imagine now being able to even go to the grocery store, but that’s the price you pay for spreading the truth,” he said.
“He would have spent the rest of his days there in the embassy had Ecuador not surrendered him,” said many of the press websites when news of his arrest began circulating.
Julian Assange’s arrest
Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This had been his home for 7 long years. After Ecuador withdrew its protection, British police officers made their way into the embassy where they promptly arrested the Wikileaks founder. In the above image, you can see British officers as they escort Assange out of the embassy. Many sources, and as evidenced in the above photo, Julian Assange didn’t go willingly. “They had to carry him out so to speak and, in some cases, they were even dragging him. He was also pleading with the officers as they took him out: ‘the UK must resist this attempt made by the Trump administration.’ He repeated that mantra over and over again.” He was then taken into custody at a London police station.
Others who were present at Julian Assange’s arrest said that he was so out of control that he had to be restrained. “He was definitely resisting. He kept shouting, ‘this isn’t lawful! I won’t leave!’ It took several officers to escort him out of the building. It was absolute chaos,” said a witness.
Police also confirmed later that Assange was “arrested further”, by American authorities for an extradition warrant. Since the authorities were unable to be present, this was done on their behalf. He could face charges in both countries.When questioned about this further arrest, Home Office’s spokesperson said, “Julian Assange has been accused in the United States of America as being guilty of computer related offences and infractions.”
The US indictment, which contains only a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, was published early this morning. However, this isn’t just a simple conspiracy charge the US is levying against Assange; the Wikileaks founder is being held responsible for what has been deemed one of the largest government secrets leaks ever. An extradition hearing is scheduled to take place later at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The hearing will help the UK decide whether or not to extradite Julian Assange due to the allegations levied against him by the United States Department of Justice. If convicted, he will face up to five years in a US prison. However, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson said that they will be fighting the request for an extradition. “If we allow him to be extradited, then this will set a dangerous precedent in motion. Any journalist could thus face charges in the United States for publishing information that is truthful about the US. They could be punished for going to and then using sources. We can’t allow that,” Robinson said.
Jennifer Robinson said she also visited Assange in the holding cell. Here he thanked supporters of his and told her, “I told you so.” This is a throwback to Assange’s prediction that he would face extradition to the United States if he ever left the embassy.
US charges the Wikileaks founder faces
Despite what seems like an infinite amount of charges that could be levied against Assange, the one that seems to have put him into hot water is the allegation that he conspired with Chelsea Manning, a former US intelligence analysis, to downloaded databases that are highly classified. “Not only did he conspire with her against the United States and the American people, but he manipulated her into gathering more and more evidence. She would bring Assange documents that he would okay and then he would ask for more. ‘Yeah, this is great, but can you get more,’ was always on his mind. We simply cannot allow this behavior to exist,” said authorities.
The indictment was issued last year in Virginia. According to the indictment, Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning in 2010 to access, obtain, and distribute classified information from the Department of Defense computers. “He was given unbridled access through Manning to files, documents, and a lot of sensitive information that could be used against the country. He then chose to upload a lot of the content to the web where it could be seen by the world. That’s dangerous,” said authorities.
Manning successfully downloaded four databases from agencies and departments within the US. All of this happened between January and May 2010 according to the indictment. The information was then given to Wikileaks to be distributed as they saw fit. “This is one of the biggest compromises of sensitive, classified information in American history,” said the US Justice Department.
Why did Ecuador give him up?
After 7 years of living under their protection, Ecuador finally gave up Julian Assange. This decision shocked a lot of people and left the world wondering why. Many had simply assumed that the embassy would house Assange until his death.
When asked about the decision, Lenin Moreno, president of Ecuador, told the press that his country had “reached its limit regarding Mr. Assange’s behavior.” Moreno went on to say that Assange had a habit of blocking security cameras within the embassy. “He also accessed security files that he was not given permission to access and he was always confronting guards. He was very rude and demanding.” There were apparently numerous arguments regarding what Assange could and couldn’t do inside the embassy. “He was always toeing the line,” Moreno said.
However, the straw that broke the camel’s back came in January 2019. At this time, Wikileaks published Vatican documents that had been leaked. “Other publications were made at the same time and it just confirmed that Mr. Assange is still tied to Wikileaks. He’s still involved them and is still intervening into internal affairs that he shouldn’t be,” Moreno stated.
Of course, this caused people to suspect that something more was going on. “Of course he’s involved with Wikileaks and still is! Nobody’s dumb enough to assume that Assange gave all of that up. There’s evidence of it everywhere and has been for years. This isn’t the reason Ecuador gave him up, it was personal,” argued supporters of Assange. Many also pointed to the fact that Assange’s arrest happened just a day after Wikileaks announced that it had discovered a huge spy operation against Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.
“They were spying on him and once Wikileaks took that public, Ecuador was done. This was a grudge. It was there way of getting him back for saying something unfavorable about them,” supporters continued.
Many were worried that after his arrest Assange would face the death penalty or possibly torture. Moreno put the world’s mind at peace when he said that the British government had confirmed in writing that Assange would not be extradited to any country where torture or the death penalty would be inflicted upon him. “Just because we ceased our amnesty of Mr. Assange doesn’t mean that we wish him any ill will and we don’t want to see him hurt,” said Moreno.
Possible dead man switches
One of the notorious factors about Wikileaks is that it supposedly contains what’s referred to as “dead man switches”. A dead man switch is exactly what it sounds like; programs and codes are put to into place that will release information or cause problems upon someone’s death. If you’re familiar with the show Lost,then you probably have a good idea on the basis of the switch. If you remember the underground bunker, Desmond had to enter a code every so often or “something bad would happen.” Nobody knew what would happen if you didn’t type in the code. Eventually, the code wasn’t entered and the bunker blew up. The same model applies to Wikileaks.
Should Julian Assange not be present to enter a password, keycode, or however he has his website set up, Wikileaks is set to release an unbridled amount of information to the public. “Sure, we’ve released some things in the past that have changed the world. But we’ve kept the really bad stuff to ourselves. If anything happens, then Wikileaks is set to reveal this information to the world,” Assange said.
Many believed that the dead man switch was either completely fabricated or being used as a bargaining chip. “They won’t take action against Assange because they’re afraid of this information being released. It’s his go to card, his ace in the hole. Whether or not information would really be released if something were to happen to him is up for debate; but it’s keeping authorities in check nonetheless.”
And in the past, Wikileaks’s Twitter has gone crazy with strange posts and things like “protect our information, torrent Wikileaks” in the past. This occurred shortly after Assange’s computer privileges were revoked within the embassy. This caused the public to go nuts; especially given the titles of some of the documents that were threatened to be released.
These types of posts have occurred 4 times since 2010 but Assange maintains that no dead man switch has been tripped yet. “This is just insurance,” he said regarding the strange posts and threats to release information.
With all of this in mind, the world is now keeping a close eye on both Wikileaks and its social media accounts. “We’re expecting to see absolute chaos and for hell to break loose now that Assange has been arrested,” say supporters. Of course, many don’t believe in the dead man switch and suggest that this will “prove that the dead man switch is a lie; it was his bargaining tool and that’s the extent of it.”
Only time will tell at this point.
What are your thoughts?
We’d like to know whether or not you’re a fan of Julian Assange. Do you think it’s doing good things for the world by releasing these documents via Wikileaks or do you think it’s doing more harm than good? How long do you think he’ll remain in prison and do you believe Britain’s promise that Assange will not be tortured or executed? We also want to know whether or not you buy into the dead man switch and if you do, what do you expect to see released now that he is jail?