Who is Julian Assange and what he risks with extradition to the USA

Elizabeth Smith

Julian Assange is an Australian IT expert with a controversial past who hit the headlines in 2010 with his controversial WikiLeaks platform. Born in Australia and with a passion for technology from a young age, he has found himself at the center of several controversies throughout his career.

In 1995, an Australian court convicted him of hacking, although the sentence was later suspended in exchange for a promise not to commit computer crimes again.

Julian Assange hacker or cyberactivist?

His notoriety exploded in 2010 with the founding of WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to the publication of confidential information and secret documents from governments and organizations around the world.

The WikiLeaks revelations have shaken the foundations of global power, sparking heated debates about freedom of information, transparency and cybersecurity.

The figure of this figure remains controversial, with some considering him a hero of freedom of information and others accusing him of endangering national security and collaborating with enemies of the state. Regardless of personal opinions, his impact on the geopolitical and media landscape is undeniable.

Who is Assange and what is he accused of?

Born in 1971, Australian journalist, hacker and programmer, in 2006 Assange was among the founders of the WikiLeaks platform which in 2010 published top secret US government documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the United States he becomes a “public enemy”. The publication is largely the result of a leak by former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison but released after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.

Assange’s judicial history

Also in 2010, Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against Assange for sexual assault on two women. In December the Australian was arrested in Great Britain and then released on bail. Then in 2012 he asked for political asylum in Ecuador, which welcomed him into its embassy in London. In 2017, Sweden dropped the charges.

In April 2019, Ecuador revoked the asylum granted to Assange and the Ecuadorian embassy in London expelled him. The British police then arrest him. In May of the same year, the founder of WikiLeaks was indicted in the United States.

Seventeen charges have been brought against him under the Espionage Act of 2017 for conspiring to obtain classified information which was then disseminated online. Washington also accuses him of the alleged crime of complicity in the hacking of Pentagon files.

The extradition process to the United States began in February 2020, but in January 2021, London district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the American request with a first-instance verdict.

Eleven months later, the High Court of London overturns the first instance sentence and says yes to Assange’s transfer to the USA. In April 2022, London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued the formal extradition order. If extradited to the United States, Assange faces 175 years in prison.

Read also: The 5 most transparent governments in the world

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