WikiLeaks founder keeps low profile

2010-08-19 18:24

kalahari.com

  • Wikileaks
    WikiLeaks is the most challenging journalistic phenomenon to have emerged in the digital era. It... Now R229.00
    buy now
Stockholm - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has with his whistleblower website helped uncover some of the world's best hidden scandals, but he himself keeps much of his life shrouded in mystery.

Emblematic of the website specialised in leaking confidential documents, the 39-year-old Australian had numerous shocking revelations from places ranging from Iraq to Iceland under his belt even before his master stroke on Afghanistan in July catapulted him into the global spotlight.

WikiLeaks published nearly 77 000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan on July 23 and says it is preparing to publish another 15 000 secret files.

Despite a wave of criticism, Assange insists the publication was an important part of WikiLeaks goal to revolutionise journalism.

"We are creating a new standard for free press," he said during a recent visit to Stockholm, adding that "by doing so, we are hoping to liberalise the press across the world".

Hacker


The lanky former hacker may have transformed into a champion of transparency, but he divulges little about himself and will not even give his date of birth.

Assange, who is constantly on the move, bouncing from capital to capital and staying with supporters and friends of friends, says secrecy comes with the territory.

"We deal with organisations that do not follow the rules. We deal with intelligence agencies," he said.

What is known is that Assange was born sometime in 1971 on Magnetic Island in north-eastern Australia and spent his early years living there on and off with his mother. In interviews with Australian media, Assange has described his childhood as nomadic, saying he in all attended 37 different schools.

Living in Melbourne in the 1990s, Assange said he as a teenager discovered a new talent: hacking. But his new interest did not go undetected and was charged with 30 counts of computer crime, including allegedly hacking police and US military computers.

He admitted most of the charges and walked away with a fine.

Police were never able to determine however whether Assange was involved in a 1989 incident in which Nasa computer monitors flashed the word "WANK", standing for the hacker group called Worms Against Nuclear Killers, as the Atlantis space shuttle was about to be launched.

Low profile

After his brush with crime, Assange said he worked in a number of different fields, as a security consultant, a researcher in journalism and started his own IT company.

He also co-authored a book about Melbourne's hacker culture and contains a details about the Nasa attack. Then, in 2006, WikiLeaks was born.

"It started as a collaboration between a dozen people from human rights, journalism and technology" backgrounds, he said.

"We have three goals: Free the press, establish rights and wrongs through exposing abuses and create and preserve the historical record."

Since the Afghanistan documents were published, Assange has kept a low profile, chopping off his flowing silver locks that had earned him comparison to an angel.

He now refuses to provide a mobile phone number and said he suspects Australian authorities have frozen his bank account. According to his entourage he felt threatened last time he passed through London at the beginning of August.

Iceland and Sweden, where he feels safest due to favourable legislation, are among his regular stopovers. In Reykjavik at the beginning of March, Assange said he had lived in Kenya for a long time.

Graphic video

At the time of that meeting, he was deeply involved in a leak that would resound around the world: WikiLeaks' so-called "project B".

Locked up for weeks at a time in a house in Reykjavik with the curtains drawn, he and a handful of other WikiLeaks supporters were about to unveil their first global scoop: a graphic video of a US military Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad in 2007 that killed two Reuters employees and a number of other people.

According to The New Yorker, Assange himself decrypted the military video, something he told the magazine had been only "moderately difficult".

The Iraq leak and later the massive Afghanistan leak are part of WikiLeaks' aim to create a new form of journalism based on free access to documents rather than depending on often unreliable sources.

"People often ask us: do you check your sources? But we check documents. We call organisations, and we ask them: Are these documents yours?... And I think (we have) a much higher standard," he said.

The Pentagon has charged that by publishing the Afghanistan documents WikiLeaks is recklessly endangering the lives of soldiers and informants, while several rights groups have also called the publication irresponsible.

Assange meanwhile has called on critics to help check through the piles of documents for content that could put lives at risk so it can be removed.

"We take our publishing responsibility seriously," he insisted.

"We also take our impartiality and integrity as an institution that provides a public service seriously," he added.
- SAPA
Read more on:    wikileaks  |  internet
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals
Traffic & Train Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.