“If journalism is good, it is controversial, by its nature.”
These words of Julian Assange, a rebellion by nature depicts his goal and his will to achieve it, no matter what the method is. As he says, “The goal is justice, the method is transparency. It’s important not to confuse the goal and the method.”
Julian Paul Assange born on 3 July 1971 is an Australian computer programmer, political-internet activist, publisher, and journalist, but he is better known as the controversial public face of Wikileaks, an international website that gives whistle blowers an anonymous way to publish sensitive documents. The information his organization released earned him strong supporters and powerful enemies. For his efforts, the internet activist earned the Time magazine Person of the Year title in 2010.
Julian Assange had an unusual childhood and he ended up attending roughly 37 different schools growing up, and was frequently home-schooled. Brett Assange, his step-father described Julian as a “sharp kid who always fought for the underdog.”
At the age of 16, Assange began hacking under the name Mendax with two other hackers and formed a group named International Subversives. Assange wrote down the early rules of the subculture: “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information”. He was proclaimed as “Australia’s most famous ethical computer hacker.” In September 1991, he hacked into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel, the Canadian telecommunications company. Playing digital hide and seek one night, a systems engineer working for Nortel nailed him. He was also reported to have accessed computers belonging to an Australian university, the USAF 7th Command Group in the Pentagon and other organisations, via modem. In 1994, the case went into court where he was charged with 31 counts of hacking and related crimes. After persuasion from his lawyer 6 charges were lifted imposing him a fine of A$2,100. He was released on bond of good conduct.
From 1993 to 1999, Assange was involved in developing various free softwares and writing books. The softwares include the Usenet caching software NNTPCache and Surfraw, a command-line interface for web-based search engines. He was also involved in starting of one of Australia’s first ISP. In 1998,Assange founded his first and only Australian company Earthmen Technology. In 1999, he registered the domain leaks.org, but he says he “didn’t do anything with it.”
From 2002 to 2005, nothing significant happened in his life concerning the kind of person he was. During this period he attended University of Melbourne and University of Canberra as an undergraduate student pursuing Bachelor of Science degree. He did not complete his graduation and was a dropout by choice. His motivation was the fact that his fellow students were doing research for Pentagon’s DARPA. And in 2006,he founded Wikileaks-an anonymous global avenue for disseminating documents the public should see.
Assange is the central face of Wikileaks being its most recognized spokesman. He worked as a member of Advisory board of Wikileaks.He prefers himself to be called editor in chief at WikiLeaks rather than Director or Founder. WikiLeaks has released more classified documents than the rest of the world press combined, in Assange’s words “That’s not something I say as a way of saying how successful we are – rather, that shows you the parlous state of the rest of the media. How is it that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information, at that level, than the rest of the world press combined? It’s disgraceful.”
WikiLeaks has published leaked documents on hundreds of topics, including oil scandals in Peru, the Church of Scientology, extra-judicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping on the African Coast, climate research, the contents of a Sarah Palin email account, and procedures for the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. In April of 2010 it released Collateral Murder, leaked video of a deadly 2007 U.S. Army helicopter attack on Iraqi citizens. On November 28, 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing more than 251,000 American diplomatic cables, mostly unclassified but including many labelled “classified” or “secret.” The release of information that was never intended for public viewing generated some embarrassing moments for the U.S. Government and created some problems for American allies.
In early December 2010, Assange discovered he had other legal problems to worry about. He had been under investigation by the Swedish police since early August, in connection with two sexual assault cases. After a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Swedish authorities on December 6, Assange turned himself in to the London police.
After a series of extradition hearings in early 2011 to appeal the warrant, Assange learned on November 2, 2011, that the High Court dismissed Assange’s appeal. After that Assange went to supreme court and now he is in Ecuadorian Embassy in England. Assange has got supporters throughout the world who are protesting against European Union in each and every corner of the world for his release. He can be termed as modern RobinHood, the only difference is that he deals in information, not in money.
And he quotes, “What is the difference between Mark Zuckerberg and me? I give private information on corporations to you for free, and I’m a villian. Zuckerberg gives your private information to corporations for money and he’s man of the year.”