Julien Assange and WikiLeaks
by ProvocativeTrash on March 27, 2015 - 1:14pm
Julien Assange was born in Townsville, Australia on the 3rd of July, 1971. His childhood was spent travelling around the world with his mother Christine and stepfather Brett Assange due to the parent’s theatrical prospects. While growing up, Julien attended approximately 37 different schools and was also homeschooled. Assange became passionate about computer programming when he got is first computer on his 16th birthday. Not long after, he started to get invested into computer hacking. In 1991, he broke into Nortel and obtained root access to the master terminal; this resulted in charges of over 30 counts of computer hacking, but he was only fined for sentences. He continued his pursuit of programming and software development, as well as studying mathematics at the University of Melbourne. Assange eventually dropped out without finishing his degree due to moral disagreements associated to students working on military projects.
In 2006, Julien Assange began developing a website with the goal of collecting on publishing confidential information. WikiLeaks launched in 2007 and later that year, a military manual containing information on Guantanamo Bay was released by Julien. In September 2008, an anonymous source provided emails from Sarah Palin, who was running alongside John McCain’s as his vice presidential candidate. Still, the website’s popularity only saw great amounts of growth when documents obtained from Chelsea Manning, a famous whistleblower, were published. This material attracted great attention, especially from politicians, which started condemning Assange as a “criminal” [Australian PM Julia Gillard] and a “terrorist” [Vice President Joe Biden]. In 2010, he earned many awards for his work, most notably the Sam Adams Award, which is given annually to an intelligence professional who “has taken a stand for integrity and ethics”, as well as being the Time reader’s choice for person of the year. As of 2012, Julien Assange has been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which now provides him with political asylum.
For perspective, WikiLeaksdescribes itself as a non-profit organization that attempts to improve transparency to allow the scrutinizing of governmental actions that would otherwise not be possible. This has resulted in backlash, which WikiLeaks describes as “legal and political attacks designed to silence our publishing organisation, our journalists and our anonymous sources.” On section 2.2 of their about page, WikiLeaks categorizes the stories it broke, with these listings:
War, killings, torture and detention
Government, trade and corporate transparency
Suppression of free speech and a free press
Diplomacy, spying and (counter-)intelligence
Ecology, climate, nature and sciences
Corruption, finance, taxes, trading
Censorship technology and internet filtering
Cults and other religious organizations
Abuse, violence, violation
Through his activism, Julien Assange has changed the face of journalism and has pushed the legal boundaries for exposing the hidden stories of the government. Due to his stay in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is left to manage WikiLeaks with a council of four others who essentially obtains and publishes information. While he cannot do much while enclosed under such circumstances, he has used the internet for the greater good of journalism. Essentially, the job is left to us to achieve the goal of influencing changes in the mismanagement of government and to use the tools he has given to us to fight against legislation that infringes on our rights (see: Trans-Pacific Partnership). He has become such a threat to the plutocracy of the U.S that operations are being held to disrupt the service. In addition to leaking sensitive information of war crimes from commonwealth countries, WikiLeaks combats censorship by exposing government operation attempting to silence free speech.
To conclude, Assange is a facilitator for the obtention of classified documents, through these files, he exposes the wrongdoings of governments and fights for civil rights. Additionally, he is an exemplar of what one single person can do to make such a change from nothing. Through simply leaning programming, he has started something that is key to a true democracy. Without information, we are left blinded and unfit to make clear decisions on political matters which will affect all of us-- and this is why Assange's work is of such importance