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Julian Assange

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(CC) Photo: Peter Erichsen

Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971) is an Australian who is editor-in-chief at WikiLeaks. The Times has a profile[1] of him and The Australian a more detailed one.[2]

For his work with WikiLeaks, Assange received the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award and the 2010 Sam Adams Award. Utne Reader named him as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". In 2010, New Statesman ranked Assange number 23 among the "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures". The Sydney Peace Foundation gave him their peace medal in 2011.[3]

Swedish rape charge

In December 2010, the Swedish Supreme Court ruled that Assange, must appear before a magistrate in Stockholm to answer accusations of rape and sexual harassment brought by two Swedish women. Previously, Assange's offer to appear when in Sweden was not taken up, apparently waiting for him to leave the country before challenging him. Sweden also refused to grant him a residence permit, which had been sought in order to gain legal protection for the WikiLeaks website.

Following the court's refusal to hear an appeal of the warrant, Swedish authorities said they were fine-tuning a "red notice" for Assange's arrest that is being relayed to member countries by Interpol, the international anti-crime cooperative."[4] Police in Britain, where Assange is located, had "they could not act on the mandate without more specifics on the potential charges and the penalties Assange might face under Swedish law. " Sweden responded, on 3 December, with a new warrant. Assange's attorney, Mark Stephens, called the entire process irregular.[5]

There is a Justice for Assange campaign.

He lost the first round. The judge in the extradition hearing ruled against him on all major points.[6] This was appealed, and the higher court confirmed the lower court's ruling. Another appeal [7] was lodged and lost [2] and an appeal to the Supreme Court [8] failed as well.

He then took refuge in the embassy of Ecuador and applied for political asylum to avoid the extradition.[9] Ecuador are trying to get assurances from the UK, Swedish and US governments that he will not be extradited to the US from Sweden; after the first few weeks no responses have been forthcoming.[10] Ecuador say they have received a "threat" from the British to "storm the embassy", and they are very displeased at that.[11] [3] The vaguely worded private message to Ecuador, which it chose to publish, refers to the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which gives the Secretary of State power to close down individual diplomatic premises (without necessarily breaking off diplomatic relations completely), provided he is satisfied it would comply with international law. Ecuador has now granted the asylum application, but Britain says it will not grant Assange safe passage from the embassy to Ecuador.[12]

His defense team now includes prominent Spanish judge and extradition expert Baltasar Garzón, who calls the charges against Assange "arbitrary and baseless".[13] A leaked police document says they plan to arrest him the instant he leaves the embassy for any reason [4].

Extradition to US?

Assange's lawyers have argued that the Swedish charges are politically motivated and the goal may be to get him to Sweden so that he can be extradited from there to the US. Under the rules for the European Arrest Warrant, this would require the consent of the "competent authority" in the UK.[14] There has been talk in the US of charges under the Espionage Act. Email revealed by an Anonymous hack on the private security firm Stratfor discusses an additional secret warrant.[15]

Media

A play[16] called "The Stainless Steel Rat" (the name borrowed from stories by Harry Harrison) and an opera[17] are being rehearsed.

Assange has been subject of two major films: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) a documentary which attracted favourable reviews from critics[18] and had attracted modest audiences, but was denounced by Assange and WikiLeaks as 'an unethical and biased title in the context of pending criminal trials. It is the prosecution's claim and it is false'.[19] Released within weeks of We Steal Secrets, the drama-thriller The Fifth Estate (2013) starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, was both critically panned and denounced by Assange.[20]

Assange (actually Bill Hader impersonating him) is a regular visitor on Saturday Night Live.

He turns up as the new next door neighbour when the Simpsons move.[21]

2013 Australian senate election

Assange nominated for a place in the Australian Senate, under the WikiLeaks Party ticket[22] and at least one media report[23] suggested that he may have a good chance of winning. During the 2013 election campaign, Assange donned an 80s-style mullet, spoofing John Farnham's 'The Voice' with rewritten lyrics highlighting the need for WikiLeaks.[24] Assange however failed to secure a senate seat after the WikiLeaks Party obtained only 0.62% of the national vote, despite managing more votes than the Australian Motoring Enthusiast party, which did secure a senate spot in Victoria on preferences.[25]

References

  1. "Profile: Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks", Sunday Times, April 11, 2010
  2. Robert Manne (March 5, 2011), "Inside the brain of WikiLeak's Julian Assange", The Australian
  3. Hope, Christopher. WikiLeaks: Julian Assange given peace prize, The Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 10 May 2011. Retrieved on 7 October 2013.
  4. Edward Cody (2 December 2010), "Swedish court upholds warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; amid furor, provocateur remains out of sight", Washington Post
  5. "Wikileaks warrant 'issued to UK'", BBC News, 3 December 2010
  6. Clive Coleman (Februray 24, 2011), "Wikileaks' Julian Assange handed 'resounding defeat'", BBC
  7. Court clears way for Assange extradition fight, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2011-12-06. Retrieved on 2012-08-08.
  8. Julian Assange loses extradition appeal at Supreme Court, BBC News, 2012-05-30.
  9. Ecuador says WikiLeaks founder Assange is seeking asylum, CNN, 2012-06-20. Retrieved on 2012-08-08.
  10. Paul Lewis. Ecuador seeks to stop 'evil' of Julian Assange US extradition: Ecuadorian diplomats seek UK assurances that WikiLeaks founder will not be extradited to US after proceedings in Sweden, The Guardian, 2012-07-26. Retrieved on 2012-08-08.
  11. Julian Assange: UK issues 'threat' to arrest Wikileaks founder, BBC, August 16, 2012.
  12. [1]
  13. Giles Tremlett (July 25, 2012), "Julian Assange defence to be led by Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzón", The Guardian
  14. Article 28(4)
  15. Colvin, Mark. Secret US charges against Assange alleged, PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 29 February 2012. Retrieved on 7 October 2013.
  16. Alison Rourke. WikiLeaks play brings Julian Assange's life to the stage: Stainless Steel Rat, by the award-winning Australian playwright Ron Elisha, follows WikiLeaks' release of government cables, The Guardian, 2011-05-26.
  17. Ashleigh Wilson. Led on by WikiLeaks, opera has a song in its art, The Australian, 2011-10-15.
  18. Rose, Steve. WikiLeaks documentary: 'Julian Assange wanted $1m', The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 July 2013. Retrieved on 7 April 2014.
  19. WikiLeaks (21 January 2013). We Steal Secrets. Facebook. Retrieved on 7 April 2014.
  20. Malkin, Bonnie. Julian Assange writes to Benedict Cumberbatch to complain about 'wretched' Wikileaks film, The Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 10 October 2013. Retrieved on 7 April 2014.
  21. Nick Rosen. The Simpsons and Julian Assange to meet at off-grid hideout, Off-grid, 2012-01-31.
  22. Julian Assange to run for Senate, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2012-03-17.
  23. Steve Huff. ‘Senator Julian Assange’–Not as Crazy as it Sounds, The Observer, 2012-05-19.
  24. thejuicemedia. Julian Assange dons mullet to sing You're the Voice – video, The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 August 2013. Retrieved on 7 October 2013.
  25. Australian Associated Press. Julian Assange: WikiLeaks party will continue, The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 September 2013. Retrieved on 7 October 2013.
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