Have you ever heard of Julian Assange? He is the Swedish founder of a website called WikiLeaks, which earned him Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2010.
However, due to assault allegations, Assange was in danger of getting punished by his home country of Sweden. For over seven years, Ecuador’s government had been protecting Assange in its London Embassy.
On Thursday, April 11th, Ecuador unexpectedly turned Assange in and he was arrested in London.
Let’s learn more about who Julian Assange is and why he was arrested.
How Was WikiLeaks Created?
Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Australia in 1971. At the age of 16, Assange was gifted a computer by his mother. From then on, he discovered his passion for software and hacking. In fact, he was fined more than thirty times for hacking incidents in Australia!
In 2007, Assange launched his astonishing website called WikiLeaks. This website gathered and released confidential (secret or private) information to the general public -- everything ranging from private information about the film industry to data from national security and wars.
In 2008, WikiLeaks released vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s emails and in 2016, it published Hillary Clinton’s emails on the site by hacking into her account.
Assange Seeks Asylum
In 2012, Assange faced sexual assault allegations, and he would have to face harsh charges in Sweden. To avoid this punishment, Assange sought protection at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and requested asylum. The president of Ecuador at that time, Rafael Correa, agreed to offer Assange asylum because of Ecuador’s damaged relationship with the U.S, as the U.S wanted to prosecute Assange.
Since Assange was offered asylum by the Ecuadorian government, the British government could not arrest him inside the embassy. But if he stepped outside the embassy’s grounds, the British police were legally allowed to arrest Assange. Knowing this, Assange remained in the embassy for seven years!
During his time in the embassy, Assange was rude and disrespectful towards the embassy staff. He played music too loud, failed to care for his cat, and even smeared his feces on the wall! Even though Ecuador spent over 1 million dollars on Assange each year, the embassy staff was tired of Assange’s rude behavior.
After the arrest, Assange’s Ecuadorian citizenship was revoked. Currently, Sweden is considering placing sexual assault allegations on Assange once again. He is due to face his hearing on May 2.
It will be interesting to see where Julian Assange’s fate lies and whether WikiLeaks will continue with its mission.
Sources: BBC, Vox, CNN, NBC, Biography.com